Defiant Andrew refuses to go as Johnson walks

But Mallett rules out England job after approach by RFU

It was a long, hard three and a half years, and Martin Johnson thought just as long and hard before walking away from his job as England manager – a job that ended in abject World Cup failure in the rugby badlands of New Zealand. But in the end, the untenable became the inevitable. "There's a part of me that regrets leaving because there's a degree of unfinished business," he said yesterday, "but I came into this with my eyes open and I leave with my eyes open. It's an all-encompassing, all-consuming role and when I ask myself if I'm ready to commit myself to another four years, the answer is: 'no, I'm not'."

Johnson made it clear in his valedictory address at Twickenham that he had run the operation his way, with the people he wanted alongside him. "I had all the help I needed," he insisted, "and I was allowed to do the job on my own terms. I was insulated from whatever was going on with the Rugby Football Union and what happened at the World Cup had nothing to do with issues over governance or structure. I'm looking you in the eye when I say this, and I'm not saying it to defend anyone. I'm saying it because it is true."

Sitting alongside him, in need of some defending, was Rob Andrew, the man who runs the professional rugby wing of the RFU's sprawling operation. While much of the questioning of Johnson was sympathetic in the extreme, the questioning of the former England outside-half was quite otherwise. Would he too be pondering his position? Andrew fought fire with fire. "There is a widespread misunderstanding of my role: my job is to run a huge department; Martin was appointed to run the England team," he responded. "No, I'm absolutely not considering resignation."

Many expected the body language between the two men to be strained, not least because Andrew had presided over the heavy disciplinary treatment dished out to the England centre Mike Tindall, whose off-field behaviour during the recent global gathering in All Black country had done so much to derail England's attempt to recapture the Webb Ellis Trophy. Johnson, who had shown a good deal of support for Tindall at the time, must surely have been taken aback by his occasional captain's ejection from the elite squad and the decision to fine him a whopping £25,000 into the bargain.

Yet the outgoing manager showed no sign of anger or frustration with Andrew during the 40 minutes they sat cheek by jowl. Quite the opposite. Asked whether the Tindall furore had been a major factor in his decision to quit, he replied: "There's no one thing that tipped me over the edge. I've taken a lot of things into consideration. If we had beaten France in that quarter-final, would I have reached the same conclusion? I don't know.

"You can only make decisions on where you are, not where you might have been. I've made mine while there's a choice in front of me. Would that choice have been there at the end of the review process? I don't know."

Andrew, as bristlingly combative as he has ever been in public session, said it was now his job to find the next England coach, adding that he was keen to get on with it. "I can't do anything while I'm sitting here," he said, pointedly. Who that coach might be, and when he might be appointed, is unclear, although some heavyweight candidates are in the frame, including the New Zealander Graham Henry, who guided the All Blacks to the world title less than a month ago.

Alarmingly, however, one of those initial candidates, the accomplished and vastly experienced South African coach Nick Mallett, is already out of the frame. Mallett, who has worked at international level with both the Springboks and Italy, revealed last night he had already been approached by the RFU, but had decided not to make himself available. "I was interested to hear what the RFU representatives had to say," he commented, "but my primary concern is my family. We are settled in Cape Town and it is my wish to be able to enjoy time with my wife and kids after four years in Italy."

Whoever takes on the biggest task in world rugby, he will be under every bit as much pressure as Johnson encountered. "If you want a nice, steady life, don't do the job," he said. "It's tough, but that's the deal. Coaches get sacked, players get dropped: the people who get involved in this aren't blind to that fact. They live in that world and yes, it can be hard. If it was easy, anyone could do it."

Martin Johnson was as far from "anyone" as it gets in the world of rugby union, but the job still proved too much for him.

Runners and riders: Is Mallinder the man?

Graham Henry

The World Cup-winning New Zealander's credentials could hardly be more impressive, although at 65 he may be a little long in the tooth to take up a hands-on role.

Jim Mallinder

Probably the outstanding English candidate, although the former Gloucester coach Dean Ryan might have his supporters. Mallinder's work at Northampton has been intelligent and resourceful.

Jake White

Another World Cup-winning coach, the South African has always coveted a Twickenham role and is said to have an escape clause in his contract with ACT Brumbies, the Australian side.


5-2 Mallinder; 4-1 Henry; 9-2 Mallett; 6-1 Joe Schmidt; 10-1 John Kirwan; 14-1 Shaun Edwards; 16-1 White, Sir Clive Woodward; 20-1 Dean Richards, Paul Grayson, Richard Cockerill, Dean Ryan.

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits