Martin Johnson confirms decision to quit as England manager


Martin Johnson has confirmed he has quit as England team manager at a press conference at Twickenham this afternoon.

Johnson was widely expected to tender his resignation after England's disappointing World Cup campaign last month.

The Red Rose were eliminated by eventual finalists France at the quarter-final stage - to fall below their stated semi-final objective - while off-field controversies further undermined Johnson during the tournament in New Zealand.

Johnson revealed he had decided not to seek to renew his contract which runs out next month.

In a statement released by the Rugby Football Union, Johnson said he felt he had made "the right decision for me and the England team.

"I have obviously thought long and hard about this, and it's the right decision for me and the England team," he said.

"We have come a long way in the last three and a half years, and a lot of credit should go to the coaches, back-room staff and players.

"We have developed some exciting young players in the last 18 months or so, and I believe English rugby has a bright future.

"I've had great support from everyone involved in the England squad, the elite rugby department and the whole of the RFU, and I wish them all the best for the future."

RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew added: "Martin has worked tirelessly to develop this England team, from a position where the team needed a great deal of rebuilding following the 2007 World Cup.

"A whole new group of players has been introduced to the demands of Test match rugby, including: Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft, Tom Wood, Ben Youngs, Danny Care, Manu Tuilagi, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden.

"They have experienced winning in the southern hemisphere against Australia and winning the Six Nations title for the first time since 2003.

"They have also suffered the huge disappointment of the World Cup in New Zealand, and how many of these players respond to this disappointment will define their careers.

"We have always insisted that Martin would take the team to the World Cup and we would then assess what steps would be taken. Martin has made this decision and we fully respect that.

"He has handled himself with great dignity and integrity throughout his time as England team manager, as he did when he was England captain.

"He is a hugely respected figure in the English game and, although we were all disappointed with the way the World Cup turned out, we need to ensure that moving forward we learn the lessons that came out of the campaign.

"The Professional Game Board will meet to review England's Rugby World Cup performance and Martin has obviously contributed fully to that. All aspects of the management and coaching structure will be reviewed, and until then it would not be appropriate to talk about a replacement for Martin."

Johnson admitted at the press conference it had taken a long time to come to the decision. </>

"I've given this a huge amount of thought since we returned from the World Cup and didn't come to this decision lightly," he said.

"I think it's in the best interests of myself and the England team that I don't continue on into next year.

"It's been a fantastic three and a half years. I've worked with some fantastic players and a great coach and and management group.

"Whilst we've had our most successful season with 10 wins from 13 we are disappointed with how we ended it with the World Cup.

"I think it's the right decision at this time."

Andrew added at the press conference: "I would like to place on record my personal thanks of the work Johnno has put into England in the last three years.

"When you work with someone you realise the effort they put in and he's worked tirelessly to move the team forward.

"We always said right the way through the process that Martin would take the team to the 2011 World Cup and then we could look if Martin wanted to continue in that role.

"it's important at this point in time that we respect Martin's decision. He's decided it's time to move on."

Andrew denied he would follow Johnson by quitting his post, however, adding: "No I'm absolutely not considering resigning.

"In terms of the department and the structure of the professional game - that's my role in this.

"My job is to run the department, not just the playing side of things."

Johnson refused to blame the off-field incidents that marred England's World Cup campaign for his departure, even though he admitted some frustration at what went on away from match-day in New Zealand.

"The off-field stuff didn't help," he said.

"It portrays the team in a bad light and not in an accurate light.

"But we gave people the opportunity to report things as they did.

"I don't know about being let down. Of course it didn't help, we didn't want that reputation.

"I warned the players if they open door slightly it will get fully opened. They did that.

"How that affected performances on field no one can answer."

Johnson said he would leave without any regrets, adding he had carefully considered his decision to quit.

"Before you go to a World Cup you think what you want to do post World Cup - it's not a knee-jerk reaction," he said.

"It's a thoughtful and considered opinion.

"On field I think we made huge strides. The players we brought in over the past 12-18 months have become first-choice established.

"They have been to a World Cup and won a Six Nations.

"Part of me regrets leaving the job in these circumstances.

"There is unfinished business and a feeling to put things right.

"But I won't leave with any regrets."

Johnson also insisted he was happy with the support he received off the pitch during the World Cup.

"I had plenty of support (from the RFU). I had all the help I needed. A couple of isolated incidents in the tournament were dealt with internally and obviously Manu didn't help at the end.

"I certainly felt what happened off the field we supported the players and put the team in the best place we could get it in terms of winning games.

"It was my decision to deal with the media myself (in New Zealand) and I was very happy with the support I was given all the way though by the RFU.

"I've been able to do this job on my terms."