Richards urges RFU to build bridges
May 11, 2012
Dean Richards and Martin Johnson enjoyed a successful partnership as coach and captain of Leicester Tigers © Getty Images
Newcastle Falcons boss Dean Richards has urged the Rugby Football Union to improve their relationship with the media to prevent "unpleasant" treatment of the sport's leading figures.
Richards, who has only recently returned from the rugby wilderness having been hounded out of the sport and banned for three years for his part in the 'Bloodgate' saga, has revealed the sympathy he felt for former England manager Martin Johnson during a headline-grabbing Rugby World Cup campaign that led to his exit from the post.
"I saw the way that the media reacted to Martin, the way they turned on him and the team," Richards told BBC Sport. "I thought it was particularly unpleasant and having been through it myself I felt really strongly for the guys. It doesn't matter who you are and those guys hadn't done anything particularly wrong but the press and the coverage and the way they were portrayed was pretty poor at the time.
"I would like to think that the RFU will sort out their relationship with the media and improve upon that and the way they are perceived by the public. I think they have gone a long way to do that but time will tell."
Richards also revealed an insight into the consternation among the country's leading coaches that greeted the appointment of Johnson - who served as his captain throughout a dominant period for Leicester Tigers. "I think the moment RFU picked Martin who hadn't got any coaching or management experience you were certainly thinking, and a lot of other English coaches were thinking, do we actually want to be part of something whereby they just over look people who are performing week in and week out?" he said. "And if they do that on that occasion they probably would do it again later on in other situations.
"I don't think I would want to be part of that to be honest with you. It was a big call from them to appoint Martin, whether it was the right call or the wrong call could be boiled down to one person going out and getting drunk and not being honest with the coaching team.
"But you have to take your hat off to Johnno who blooded a lot of young players who have now become regulars in that first team and he probably doesn't get the credit he deserves for that."
Before his fall from grace, Richards was regularly linked with the England job but having completed his three-year ban he insists his immediate focus is on domestic honours. "I do harbour an ambition to win the Heineken Cup and the Premiership and what will be will be after that," he said. "But things will have to be right and having seen what I have seen so far, if someone asked me today whether I would care to be the England manager I would turn around and say no."
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