Committee-room chaos set to undermine search for new England captain
Organisational structure of governing body must be resolved or big-hitters will not be interested
First, the easy bit: the Professional Game Board, incorporating leading members of the Rugby Football Union, movers and shakers from the professional club game and representatives from the players' union, will meet today to open discussions on life after Martin Johnson.
Twelve good men and true – theoretically, at least – they have the best part of a fortnight to agree on the recommendations they must put to the governing body's management board on 30 November. All being well, an approach will then be made to the first-choice candidate to fill the vacancy at the top end of the England operation.
The difficult bit will be the selling of the job to that candidate. Eddie Jones, who coached his native Australia to the World Cup final in 2003, helped the Springboks to the title four years later and is now heavily involved in rugby in Japan, said this week: "The England job is probably the biggest in the game and its potential is vast: everyone knows that with the right structure and the right people in charge, they could challenge the All Blacks, the Wallabies and the Springboks as the major power in the sport. Any ambitious coach would be interested in being a part of it, but the structure's the thing. You wouldn't get involved unless you were sure all the pieces were in place. Are they? Not at the moment, they're not."
As things stand, the RFU is advertising for a new chief executive and is limping along under the temporary chairmanship of Paul Murphy. Indeed, a number of high-level positions are unfilled – the direct result of the bloodletting over the last 11 months of committee-room warfare.
There is no clear idea of the chain of command between a new head coach and the management board, the members of which will continue to have hiring and firing rights. Will there be a performance director between the man responsible for the England Test team and the people who ultimately decide whether he stays or goes? Would that performance director have a major say in the make-up of the coaching staff, or have a handle on team selection?
As things stand, no one knows: the RFU has effectively been paralysed for months, and until it gets moving again by agreeing on a new managerial model, the task of persuading a big-hitter that he can run the team without interference will be the devil's own job.
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