Johnson hits out at critics after Tigers' tame display

Biarritz 23 - Leicester 8

Professional rugby can be a confusing business. Here we are, accepting with the utmost reluctance that the days of wine and roses and 15 pints and a curry have gone, and that full-time dedication to the sport is an essential prerequisite. Then along comes Martin Johnson, an unimpeachable hero to all right-thinking followers of the game, to debunk the myth. "Just because you don't train on a Tuesday," Johnson said, "doesn't make people drop the ball [on a Saturday]."

So there you have it. Let's all spend more time chilling out and a little less swigging the chemical-free, vitamin-rich smoothies. You can hear the sighs of relief from players across the land - have a lie-in this morning, boys, training's an optional extra.

Last midweek, in case you have failed to follow this fast- developing soap opera, Johnson was thousands of miles from the Tigers' training ground on a testimonial engagement in Singapore. Several other players were excused duty to receive their post-World Cup honours at Buckingham Palace. The first full team run of the week was on the afternoon before this important match in the Heineken Cup.

But Johnson, who, it must be said, would turn in a presentable performance if he spent the preceding month down a mineshaft feeding on bread and water, refused to concede that these distractions were a factor in a frustratingly fitful, two-tries-to-one defeat. "It's a mental thing," the Leicester captain said. "We weren't mentally right to play the game. Because we didn't train has got nothing to do with it. No one played to their level, simple as that."

Johnson was in the mood to shoot the messenger, but it is Leicester who are giving out mixed messages. John Wells, the head coach, has been banging on about the disruption to his preparations caused by players disappearing for England training sessions. Is a concerted approach important, or isn't it?

Johnson admitted his side were "a little bit tired in the middle of the first half", when Federico Martin Aramburu and Jimmy Marlu scored game-breaking tries for Biarritz, and "lethargic". The confusion is more acute precisely because Leicester as a club have set high standards on and off the field.

It would not be hazarding the wildest guess to suggest that Johnson was hurting - all right, mentally if not physically - after Leicester were outplayed by opponents who had, funnily enough, put in four days' work together beforehand. Tigers kicked off the campaign by losing at Sale, then ran into some very good form before dropping off a couple of notches of late. Some of the backs - including Andy Goode, who missed four kicks at goal - are carrying injuries, and two forwards, George Chuter and Martin Corry, are serving bans for stamping.

An away defeat on a ground where Biarritz have lost once in 13 Heineken Cup matches does not mean the end of Leicester's season. Nor is it an end to this particular argument.

Biarritz: Tries Martin Aramburu, Marlu; Conversions Yachvili 2; Penalties Yachvili 2; Drop goal Yachvili. Leicester: Try Rabeni; Penalty Goode.

Biarritz: N Brusque; P Bidabé, F Martin Aramburu, D Traille (T Lacroix, 60), J Marlu; J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili; P Balan (D Avril, 75), B August (J-M Gonzalez, 62), Avril (B Lecouls, 62), J Thion (capt), D Couzinet (O Booyse, 59), S Betsen, I Harinordoquy, S Malonga (C Milhères, 68).

Leicester: G Murphy; S Vesty, S Rabeni (M Cornwell, 80), D Gibson, J Holtby (A Tuilagi, 49); A Goode, H Ellis; G Rowntree (D Morris, 64), R Cockerill, (J Buckland, 6-13, 49), J White, M Johnson (capt), B Kay, L Moody, W Johnson (H Tuilagi, 44), N Back.

Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific