Andrew clings on despite RFU being at 'rock bottom'

On another extraordinary day, attack coach resigns, hunt for the mole gathers pace and the jury's out on Tindall's drunken antics

Brian Smith, the England attack coach ferociously attacked by his own players – confidentially at first, then publicly as a result of the latest and most serious of a long line of Rugby Football Union leaks – bowed to the inevitable yesterday and resigned, thereby following the manager, Martin Johnson, through the Twickenham door marked "exit". Rob Andrew, the director of elite rugby attacked by virtually everyone within the game and increasing numbers of people outside it, did the opposite, which was every bit as predictable.

"The reality of my job is that I am not the England team manager," Andrew said, entirely reasonably, in an interview with the BBC. "I absolutely accept responsibility for what is going on here, but does it mean I'm going to resign? No, I'm not. Does it mean it's all broken? No, it doesn't." Some might feel that last comment to have been slightly less reasonable, for as the former international outside-half admitted, the RFU was now at "rock bottom, the lowest of the low".

Things were a touch busy at Twickenham, with some officials engaged in hunting down the individual responsible for leaking three reports into the World Cup shambles in New Zealand and others ensuring that one of the players at the centre of those reports, the disgraced centre Mike Tindall, could begin his appeal against a £25,000 fine – imposed earlier this month by the governing body – in a degree of privacy. The hearing was moved to a secret location, with the union insisting that no details of the findings would be revealed until today.

Tindall's drunken antics during a Johnson-sanctioned night out in the South Island adventure sports resort of Queenstown early in the tournament led to vast swathes of negative publicity that helped derail England's attempt to recapture the Webb Ellis Trophy, but the bad news generated by the leaking of players' comments about the management and each other has caused far greater damage. Acutely aware of this, Andrew described the leak as "disgusting" and added: "I am absolutely shattered by it. This can't be allowed to continue."

He said he had no idea who the culprit might be, although there were suggestions last night that Judge Jeff Blackett, the RFU's chief disciplinary officer, was making speedy progress with his investigation. "I wish I knew who it was," Andrew remarked. "We have to find out because it's just not right. The review process has been betrayed and it's unacceptable.

"We asked players to give us information in good faith and when you're given information like this, you have a huge responsibility to use it correctly because you're putting people's reputations at risk. You're always going to have extreme views expressed about coaches and preparation in a process like this, but those views have to be put in context." Andrew clearly felt that the leaked material, as presented to the public, had precious little in the way of context attached to it.

"Things have happened that should not have happened and I've considered my position," he continued. "Of course I have. There's been soul-searching the whole time over these last tough 12 months. But I don't have to resign. It's up to other people to decide whether I stay or go, but I know where we are as a department, there are some big decisions to be made over the next few weeks and it's my job to move it forward."

Smith's resignation surprised no one. The one senior coach appointed by Johnson – the forwards specialist John Wells, the scrum expert Graham Rowntree and the defence strategist Mike Ford were already in place when the manager took over in 2008, and he was happy to keep them on – the 45-year-old Australian was heavily criticised in the Rugby Players' Association review presented to the Professional Game Board eight days ago.

"I feel England have made great strides in the last three years," he said, combatively, "and although the World Cup was a massive disappointment, we won 10 of our last 13 games." It was pretty much the same valedictory message as Johnson had given – pretty much the first time two members of the red-rose back-room team have sung from the same hymnsheet in three and a half years, if the comments of the players are to be believed.

Meanwhile, club rugby returns tonight with games at Worcester, who face Bath, and Sale, who take on Exeter. There have been many occasions in recent seasons when Twickenham's top brass have looked down their bespectacled noses at mere club rugby, considering it low-rent compared to the international version. Suddenly, the Premiership fraternity are standing on rugby's moral high ground, mocking the very idea that they are second-class citizens. Two good games this evening will be two more than England played in New Zealand.

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

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003