RFU chairman defends support of Johnson

Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas has defended Twickenham's decision to back England manager Martin Johnson through to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Johnson's record since he took charge ahead of the 2008 autumn internationals is eight wins from 19 Tests - a 42% success rate inferior to his immediate predecessor Brian Ashton (55%) and no improvement on Andy Robinson's record (41%).



The RFU were criticised for their treatment of Ashton, who was relieved of his duties after England had reached the 2007 World Cup final and finished second in the 2008 Six Nations.



England were third in this year's championship but Thomas remains convinced the RFU have the right elite structure in place, headed by Rob Andrew, and that their new patient approach will be rewarded.



"Martin Johnson has got the management board's complete confidence through to the World Cup," said Thomas.



"He has absolutely the total backing of the board and executive staff, everyone as far as I am concerned. He will be there to take us into New Zealand 2011.



"Just like the fans, we are disappointed in the Six Nations. For the spectators, rugby is about the last game. That is the view we have taken on the management board.



"On this occasion, Martin has put in place a good discipline within the team that, rightly or wrongly, we felt wasn't there in the past.



"He has also demonstrated a loyalty to the players and indeed to his coaching staff. So, from where we sit we actually feel he is doing the job.



"I know there is a perception we have been harsh in the past, perhaps you will credit us for being gentler in the future."



That approach also applies to Andrew, whose position as elite rugby director has come under fire following England's disappointing Six Nations return.



Lawrence Dallaglio was fiercely critical of Andrew and said changes are needed right at the top of the elite department if England are to have aspirations of being world champions once again.



Sir Clive Woodward was championed in some quarters as a possible replacement for Andrew, who originally beat him to the job in 2006.



But Thomas reiterated the RFU are not planning a shake-up of a department which is responsible for more than just the senior England team.



"We are quite happy here with the structure we have got in place and we believe that is the structure that will prevail," he said.



"There are currently no vacancies in the RFU's elite rugby department and there have been no formal or informal discussions with Clive or Jake White, who was mentioned the other day.



"In fairness to Clive, the situation is that he has got a role at the British Olympic Association going towards 2012 and it must be causing him some difficulties when he walks in every day and his bosses read that he is leaving, which isn't the case.



"Rob's job is not to manage the England team. His job is to manage all the representative sides. There are some successes there with the under-20s and the under-18s, who have not lost in 16 games since 2007."



Thomas does not envisage any changes to Johnson's coaching team either, despite Brian Smith, John Wells and Mike Ford all having their contributions questioned at different points this season.



Johnson, the only member of the senior England management team contracted through to the World Cup, is responsible for the hiring and firing of his coaches.



"The coaches are very close and there are perhaps not the divisions people like to speculate about," said Thomas.



Thomas may be happy with the development England made as a squad during the Six Nations, but he accepts it was only apparent on the field in their last match against France.



England played with attacking ambition in Paris and pushed the Grand Slam champions to the wire and the pressure is on Johnson to build on that this summer.



"We need to see where we go now, frankly, on the summer tour after the performance in Paris," said Thomas.



But the RFU could well find their patience and "gentler" approach tested to the full between now and the World Cup as England tackle a fearsome fixture schedule.



Two Tests against Australia, midweek games against the Australian Barbarians and a tough appointment with the New Zealand Maori are booked in for the summer.



England then return home for an autumn series against the Wallabies, South Africa, Samoa and the All Blacks before the 2011 Six Nations.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
News
people
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

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
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments