Ford hurt by 'petty' critics but will still offer his help to England

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The Independent Online

Mike Ford is preparing to leave his role with the Rugby Football Union on good terms, although he admits to being hurt by the leaked criticism that was directed at him in the wake of the World Cup.

The defence coach was heavily chastised by the players when they were asked to review why the tournament had been such a failure for England, with feedback that made its way into the media mocking his methods.

With the RFU finally completing its internal overhaul with the appointment of Ian Ritchie as its new chief executive this week, the departure of Ford is one of the last remaining pieces of business.

And although he will leave Twickenham with a heavy heart owing to the criticism he faced, he has not closed the door on offering advice to the new-look interim coaching team of Stuart Lancaster, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree.

"I have no regrets and bear no hard feelings towards the RFU," the 46-year-old said. "I hope England win the Six Nations. I have spoken to Stuart and Andy Farrell to offer up information I have on Scotland from the World Cup, if they would like to sit down and talk. They have said they will and I hope they do well."

On having seen his abilities called into question in the leaked report, he added: "I was disappointed they [the players] didn't feel they could come face to face with me and discuss the issues during the World Cup.

"That's what disappointed me the most. I felt we had an environment where people could do that. For a few days, I went through all sorts of emotions; embarrassment, anger and vengeance. I thought I had a relationship with all the players where they trusted me and could say things to me. If you look at what they said, it was petty and not worth reporting."

The Saracens flanker Jacques Burger has called on England to arrange midweek fixtures against Namibia during their three-Test summer tour of South Africa next year. England are expected to play at least two tour matches in between the Tests against the Springboks.

Burger, who captained Namibia at the World Cup, explained his country is starved of top-class opposition and would relish the chance to face an England midweek side next June.

"I would love that. We are not growing as big as we want because we only play four big matches between World Cups. We will lose, but losing is part of learning."