Johnson victorious as director role is watered down

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Candidates for the new performance directorship at Twickenham, widely assumed to be Sir Clive Woodward's for the taking, will be interviewed by a Rugby Football Union appointments panel next week. Quite whether the World Cup-winning coach will be interested in the job now it has been watered down is a moot point, however. The governing body has readvertised the position, stressing that the successful applicant will have no direct responsibility for any aspect of the senior England team.

Many will see this as a hands-down victory for the current manager, Martin Johnson, whose role would have been compromised by the appointment of a performance director under the wider remit envisaged in the original job description. The RFU said yesterday that with the World Cup in New Zealand fast approaching, it was keen "not to upset momentum", adding that the new man's involvement would be capped at second-string Saxons level.

One of Johnson's closest playing colleagues, the Lions flanker Neil Back, has resigned as Leeds coach with immediate effect. The Yorkshiremen are facing relegation – their fate will be decided over the next week – and may now be regretting the surprising decision to sack Andy Key, their rugby director, in February. "I'm passionate about what I do and I have thrived on the challenge at Leeds over the last three years," Back said. "However, taking all things into account, I feel I have taken the club as far as I can."

Andy Robinson, the Scotland coach, has named four uncapped players in a 40-man training squad for the World Cup: the Glasgow forwards Ryan Grant and Robert Harley, the Edinburgh flanker David Denton and the Bath full-back Jack Cuthbert.

Comments