Martin Johnson has been appointed as England’s new national team manager with Brian Ashton stepping down as head coach.
SportingLife reports that Johnson, who captained England to World Cup glory in 2003, will take up his new role on July 1, after England’s summer tour of New Zealand. His contract will run until the end of 2011.
He will report to director of elite rugby Rob Andrew and will have “full managerial control of the England team”, according to the RFU, including the appointment of the coaching and management team as well as the player selection process.
Ashton, who led England back to the World Cup final last year only for them to lose to South Africa, has been offered the role of national academy head coach, although it is not yet known if he will accept what has to be classed as a demotion.
While Ashton has failed to survive the structural changes, forwards coach John Wells and defence coach Mike Ford will remain in their positions.
It has also been confirmed Johnson will appoint an additional coach to his team. That is likely to be a backs specialist – Ashton’s area of expertise – with Johnson’s 2003 World Cup colleague Mike Catt among those whose name has already been linked.
Johnson said: “It is a great honour for me to be offered this position. I am passionate about the England team and delivering success for it.
“Whilst I cannot take up my position until July 1 for personal reasons (Johnson’s wife Kay is pregnant) I will be working closely with Rob and the England coaching team on selection for the Barbarians match and the New Zealand tour, as well as selecting the first senior elite player squad of 32 under the new agreement between the RFU and Premier Rugby.”
Andrew will take on Johnson’s role for the Barbarians match – on June 1 – and the two-Test series against the All Blacks later that month.
The coaching team for the tour will be Wells and Ford, Graham Rowntree and Jon Callard.
Andrew added: “I am delighted Martin is joining the England structure as team manager. He will bring a new and fresh approach to team development and preparation in his own inimitable style.
“I would also like to thank Brian for the job he has done in difficult circumstances. He is an outstanding coach and deserves enormous credit for leading England to a second successive Rugby World Cup final last year and securing the runners-up position in this year’s RBS 6 Nations.
“Whilst Brian is naturally disappointed that he will not have a role in the new senior structure, I believe the new post that we have offered him as head coach of the national academy is ideally suited to his special talents and expertise.”
RFU chief executive Francis Baron said: “Martin has the freedom and the budget to recruit additional coaching resources and make other changes to the England set-up to build a team that will consistently challenge for the major international tournaments.
“I am also personally pleased that Brian has been offered a senior post within the RFU which I very much hope he accepts. He still has much to offer England rugby.”
The job offered to Ashton would encompass working across the England Saxons, England Under-20 and England Under-18 groups.
It represents a huge kick in the teeth for him though, and it would be a major surprise if he accepted it.
During his reign as head coach, England reached a second successive World Cup final and were runners-up in this season’s Six Nations.Tweet