Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bloodletting at RFU

April 27, 2006

The Guardian reports on the spring-cleaning at Twickenham:

Robinson survives RFU's revamp

England coach will have 'revised responsibilities'

Paul Doyle
Thursday April 27, 2006

Andy Robinson is likely to lead England's defence of the World Cup next year after being told today he can stay on as head coach despite presiding over two years of disappointment. But Bath director of rugby Brian Ashton or Southampton director of football Sir Clive Woodward may yet be brought in to help him, as the RFU announced it will appoint an "elite rugby director".

Unveiling a revamp of the country's coaching structure following another shoddy Six Nations campaign, RFU chief executive Francis Baron explained that Robinson would have "revised responsibilities" that will "allow his strength as a coach to come to the fore so he can focus on preparing the team while freeing him from the time-consuming tasks of management and securing player release".

Other members of the coaching staff have been dismissed or re-deployed. Defensive coach Phil Larder, backs coach Joe Lydon and goalkicking coach Dave Aldred are among those to have left. "Doing nothing was not an option," said Baron. "I have also assessed carefully the commercial impact the poor results of the England team over the last two years and what impact that would have going forward if matters were not addressed.

"You just have to look at the results," he continued. "Since the World Cup we have played 25, we have won 12 but lost 13. Against the major countries we have played 19 matches, won six and lost 13. In the Six Nations since the World Cup the trend has been getting worse not better. In the last two years we have finished fourth. It is not acceptable for the England team to be languishing fourth with no sign of recovery."

Robinson, then, has survived, with the blame for England's under-achievement apparently being laid at the feet of his specialist subordinates. The departure of back coach Lydon, in particular, was perhaps the least surprising. He bore the brunt of the criticism of England's failure to turn possession into points: the aimless running and predictable passing exposed an alarming lack of imagination.

A relieved Robinson said: "The review has been very thorough and extensive. I support the new structure and I think it is the best way forward for England. I was as disappointed as anyone with our Six Nations performance and I am confident that these changes will help us move on.

"I would like to thank Phil and Dave for their massive impact on English rugby and I am sorry to see them go. They played a huge, understated part in helping England win the World Cup and no-one should underestimate the contribution they made to us becoming the first Northern Hemisphere side to win that trophy."

Other reform measures include the merger of the RFU's performance department and the England management team to create a new elite rugby department.

Chris Spice, the current performance director, has tendered his resignation, which was accepted by the RFU.

The national academy will be expanded to include the regional academies and will service all teams below senior level. Conor O'Shea, currently director of regional academies, will be promoted to the position of national academy director.

Source: The Guardian


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