RFU dismisses Woodward link
March 31, 2010
Martyn Thomas will stand by Rob Andrew and Martin Johnson © Getty Images
RFU chairman Martyn Thomas has reiterated that there will be no changes to the England management structure prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, dismissing the idea of Clive Woodward or Jake White taking over from Rob Andrew as director of elite rugby.
Speculation had been rife that a shake-up would follow England's poor Six Nations campaign, with Andrew having borne the brunt of the criticism ahead of manager Martin Johnson and his coaching team. Woodward, who led England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup, is currently employed by the British Olympic Association and Thomas admitted that there had been no contact between the two parties, with the same said for White, the World Cup-winning Springbok coach.
"We are quite happy here with the structure we have got in place and we believe that is the structure that will prevail," Thomas said. "There are currently no vacancies in the RFU's elite rugby department and there have been no formal or informal discussions with Clive or Jake White, who was mentioned the other day.
"In fairness to Clive, the situation is that he has got a role at the British Olympic Association going towards 2012 and it must be causing him some difficulties when he walks in every day and his bosses read that he is leaving, which isn't the case. Rob's job is not to manage the England team. His job is to manage all the representative sides. There are some successes there with the Under-20s and the Under-18s, who have not lost in 16 games since 2007."
Thomas also offered his support to Johnson, who will soon be preparing his squad for a five-match tour to Australia. England will play two Tests against Australia, in Perth on June 12 and Sydney on June 19, and three midweek games, against the Australian Barbarians and New Zealand Maori.
"Johnson has got the management board's complete confidence through to the World Cup," Thomas said. "He has absolutely the total backing of the board and executive staff, everyone as far as I am concerned. He will be there to take us into New Zealand 2011. Just like the fans, we are disappointed in the Six Nations. For the spectators, rugby is about the last game. That is the view we have taken on the management board.
"On this occasion, Martin has put in place a good discipline within the team that, rightly or wrongly, we felt wasn't there in the past. He has also demonstrated a loyalty to the players and indeed to his coaching staff. So, from where we sit we actually feel he is doing the job. I know there is a perception we have been harsh in the past, perhaps you will credit us for being gentler in the future."