England face comprehensive PGB review
November 16, 2011
It was a World Cup to forget for England © Getty Images
The Professional Game Board will carry out the "most comprehensive review ever undertaken" of the England side in the wake of their failed World Cup campaign.
The PGB, which oversees the elite club and international game in England, will meet on Thursday to consider reports from the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Players' Association and the nine Aviva Premiership clubs who supplied players to Martin Johnson's squad. England had set a World Cup semi-final appearance as their minimum objective in New Zealand but they lost to France in the quarter-finals, ending a campaign that was dogged by controversy off the field.
"The PGB will review England's Rugby World Cup campaign and will incorporate detailed interview input from all three elements; the England coaching and support set-up, the England players and the nine clubs providing players to the England RWC squad," said PGB chairman Ian Metcalfe. "It will be the most comprehensive review ever undertaken of an England tournament performance."
The RPA surveyed all 31 England players who were part of the World Cup squad and the England management have been interviewed, with Rob Andrew compiling the RFU's report. The 12-man PGB panel will collate all the information, draw up some proposals and then present those recommendations to the RFU management board on November 30.
Only then will firm decisions start to be made as to the make-up of the England coaching team and the structure of the RFU's new Professional Rugby department. Andrew has been acting head of that department but his input into the England set-up is expected to come under scrutiny on Thursday.
Johnson is yet to formally state whether he wishes to be considered for reappointment as England manager when his contract expires at the end of December. Those members of Johnson's coaching staff who want to remain in position remain entirely in the dark as to what the future holds for them.
And all the while, the clock is ticking. England are due to name their elite squad for the 2012 Six Nations at the beginning of January. The RFU have been criticised for not even contacting Shaun Edwards while he was briefly a free agent and before he re-signed with Wales. Edwards won eight trophies during a decade at Wasps and helped Wales reach the World Cup semi-finals - but Leicester boss Richard Cockerill was not surprised England never picked up the phone given the current upheaval at Twickenham.
"You'll have to ask Rob Andrew (why no approach was made). I don't know who is making those decisions," Cockerill said. "I suppose they need to decide who is coaching the side first before they start recruiting staff."
England's off-field conduct at the World Cup is sure to feature heavily in Thursday's PGB meeting.
It has emerged England's now-infamous drunken night in Queenstown's was part-funded by the RFU. The England management set up a tab at Queenstown's Pub On The Wharf, where a group of players began the evening after dinner at the team hotel.
From there, a smaller group moved on to the Altitude Bar, a back-packers' nightspot which was hosting a 'Mad Midget Weekend'. It was there that Mike Tindall, who had captained England to victory over Argentina the previous night, was captured on CCTV in conversation with a woman.
Tindall, who later apologised for misleading the England management over his movements that night, was fined £25,000 and dropped from the England squad following an RFU investigation. It is understood the size of the fine takes into account the legal costs incurred by the RFU as they tried to manage the fall-out from the incident.
Tindall has announced his intention to appeal the decision and has until the close of business tomorrow to lodge it formally. James Haskell and Chris Ashton were both given suspended £5,000 fines following an incident in the team's Dunedin hotel.
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