KSA Shark ©

Johnson In, Ashton Out

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Uncategorized on 16 Apr 2008 at 18:30
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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.


  • I dunno how I feel about this.
    I’m sort of concerned that England are heading in a direction where the tail wags the dog and the coaching authority has been watered down with the introduction of such an authoritarian leader with so much say.

    Time will tell I suppose. Ashton definitely wasnt the man for the job but by adopting this structure they are effectviely ruling out guys like Jake White for the coaching job as he would be mad to take this job with such sever limitations on his authority.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.04.08 11:24:17 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • In todays mail there is a great tailpiece to an article about MJ (about the All Blacks). I have included the whole article however……

    It’s madness to get on the wrong side of Johnson
    21:19pm 17th April 2008

    Thursday, June 28, 2001 at the Gabba cricket stadium in Brisbane. It is one minute to 10 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, and the natives are getting restless.
    Every photographer, newspaper, radio station and television channel in the state of Queensland appears to be out in the middle eager to record the meeting of the captains before the start of the Lions’ Test series. John Eales is there in his Wallaby blazer, chatting away as affably as ever, but there is no sign of a large, brooding figure from the Midlands of England.

    Strath Gordon, the Wallabies’ veteran spin doctor, squints through the sunlight towards the clock at the Vulture Street End. ‘Looks like a no-show from Martin Johnson,’ he tells the throng, aware of pressing deadlines. ‘Better go right ahead without him.’

    Some 30 seconds later, the large, brooding figure walks briskly across from the boundary, sees the pack ahead of him and doubtless has a titter about why they call it Vulture Street.

    He arrives at the appointed hour on the dot. ‘Strewth,’ says Strath, as if he had never seen a piece of time-keeping cut quite so fine. ‘G’day Martin, great to see you. Mate, can you start with a quick word with Channel Seven, if you don’t mind.’

    He did mind, mate, and Strath was the first to know. ‘This is a photo-shoot,’ Johnson tells him, quoting the tour agreement verbatim. ‘Not a press conference.’

    When it comes to economical use of the English language, the man is a master. With that, he went off to inspect the wicket where the Lions would rout Australia in two days’ time, leaving Eales to finish holding court before joining his old sparring partner to pose for the obligatory pictures with the piece of glassware dreamt up for the occasion, in this case the Tom Richards trophy.

    Johnson does not do small talk. ‘Once you’ve said, “Hello mate, how are you?” there’s not a great deal else to be said,’ he observed. ‘Is there?’ His duty done, he turned on his heel and made a swift exit at the Vulture Street End.

    That night, on what can only have been an excruciatingly slow news day in Queensland, Channel Seven made it the lead item on their bulletin: ‘Lions skipper snubs Wallabies.’

    As Anglo-Australian diplomatic incidents go, it was never going to get into the Douglas Jardine ‘Bodyline’ league but the Aussies had got the point — you mess Johnson about at your peril, especially when the pre-match tension is edging him ‘into the zone’, that double0glazed exclusion area where nothing else exists.

    Trying to approach him in such a state is not advisable, as more than a few match-day mascots have discovered down the years.

    On one occasion at Leicester, the club told him the two mascots that Saturday were the children of a Tigers employee and would he make an extra effort. ‘Don’t forget Johnno, these are Debbie’s kids so make a little fuss of them.’

    He duly led them down the steps from the dressing-room at Welford Road out on to the pitch, a little girl in one hand, a little boy in the other. They all had their pictures taken, Johnson wrapped one of his steel-girder arms around them, patted them on the head and shot off into the team huddle, leaving the happy mascots to run to their mother on the touchline.

    ‘It was brilliant, mum, just brilliant,’ the little boy told her. ‘And what did Mr Johnson say?’ ‘He was great, mum, and at the end he said, “Right, let’s get this f****** show on the road”.’

    The RFU know full well that it is not smart to get on the wrong side of Johnson, as chief executive Francis Baron found when the England squad went on strike on the Tuesday before they were due to play Argentina at Twickenham in November 2000.

    Johnson cited Baron’s ‘hardball’ negotiating stance ‘over a few hundred quid’ in match fees as a major reason for escalating the dispute and driving the players into such extreme action, which ought to make for some interesting body language when they sit top-table at Twickenham on Friday.

    The same courage to stand his ground took England through many a tight corner. None tighter than at Lansdowne Road when Johnson & Co lined up on one side of the red carpet before the 2003 Grand Slam decider and a succession of hapless stewards fell into the trap of trying to mess him about ‘in the zone’. They told him, or tried to tell him, that he was on the wrong side of the halfway line.

    Now Johnson has confessed to a ‘deep-rooted dislike of petty officials’ and, all of a sudden, it felt like the captain and 21 other blokes in Red Rose tracksuits against the entire Irish nation.

    Johnson stood his ground, cocked two deaf ears to the caterwauling of the crowd and subsequently came up with one of the understatements of all time. ‘I am not at my most approachable at this point before a match.’

    Those who make much of the fact that he has never coached any team, let alone an international one, underestimate the depth of his knowledge and the sharpness of his tactical brain. England could have won the World Cup without Jonny Wilkinson, without Sir Clive Woodward, but not without Johnson.

    ‘Johnno has what managers and coaches can take 20 years to get — respect,’ said Keith Wood, his fellow Lion out of the same mould.

    ‘Some people bang on about him having no experience but he has the potential to be as good in this capacity as he was as captain.

    ‘And that’s saying something because he was the best captain I ever played under. His performance in the most pressurised game of all, an extra-time World Cup Final, was just phenomenal.’

    The curse about winning the World Cup once is that people expect you to do it again, all the more if your name is Martin Johnson.

    He is far too cute to be a hostage to fortune by saying so publicly, but winning in New Zealand in 2011 is the ultimate reason for his return because winning is what he does best.

    Pathetic All Blacks still in denial over World Cup flop

    Six months after the event, New Zealand’s review into what went wrong with their World Cup campaign arrived yesterday with an earth-shattering conclusion into why they came unstuck against France in the quarter-final. Nobody thought to try a drop goal.

    Any boy, or girl, in any under-13 team anywhere in the British Isles could have told them that. Instead, the Kiwis spent £40,000 on an investigation and then proceeded to reappoint Graham Henry regardless of its findings.

    Damage limitation: Henry is still in the New Zealand job
    Sadly, the 47-page document published on Thursday could not resist another pathetic swipe at the English referee Wayne Barnes, as if one forward pass was the sole explanation for the All Blacks making their earliest exit from any World Cup.

    ‘Factors outside the control of the All Blacks contributed to the loss against France,’ said the review. ‘The performance of the referee and the touch judges had a significant, adverse impact on the All Blacks.’

    Far from acknowledging Barnes for what he is, at 28 the best young referee in the game, the review even makes a laughable attempt to blame him for the team’s collective brainstorm in the final minutes.

    Page 30 of the report states: ‘The coaches did send a message out to the team with 10 minutes to go to set up for a drop goal. The on-field decision was made to continue with the tactic of attempting to score a try or get a penalty.

    ‘When making those decisions, the players were unaware of a vital piece of information, that the All Blacks had not been given a penalty in the entire second half and were, therefore, probably unlikely to get one, notwithstanding their pressure, possession and territory.’

    Did it not occur to them that Mr Barnes, clearly, found no reason to award one? They would have been better off saying less about that and more on an infinitely more credible reason for their failure, Henry’s rotational selection policy which, the report concedes, ‘did not become sufficiently consistent closer to the World Cup to allow combinations to develop’.

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.04.08 11:23:25 by hambafrika Reply


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