November 28, 2023

Johnson quits as England manager

Martin Johnson has quit as England team manager following last month’s World Cup disaster.

The 41-year-old leaves his position after three and a half years at the helm which culminated in a shambolic campaign in New Zealand.

England crashed out in the quarter-finals to France but their tournament was marred by off-field incidents including a boozy night out in Queenstown.

Jonno won 84 caps for England as a player and led his side to their historic win in the 2003 World Cup.

He took over as England manager in July 2008 and won 21 of his 38 games in charge.

England won the Six Nations earlier this year but it will be their performance and antics in the World Cup that will define Johnson’s reign.

After beating Argentina in their opening group game, a group of England players including former captain Mike Tindall made headlines after visiting a ‘dwarf-throwing’ night at the Altitude Bar in Queenstown.

Johnson immediately defended Tindall after the story broke but the player later admitted to misleading management about the events of the evening.

After an internal investigation by the RFU, Tindall was fined £25,000 and axed from England’s elite player squad for his conduct on the night which he has already said he will appeal.

But England’s players continued to cause controversy off the field with Chris Ashton, James Haskell and Dylan Hartley alleged to have made offensive comments to a hotel worker in Dunedin.

Ashton and Haskell were given suspended fines of £5,000 last week and warned about their future conduct.

On the pitch England progressed to the quarter-finals after wins against Argentina, Georgia, Romania and Scotland in their group.

But they were dumped out of the tournament by eventual finalists France with a disappointing 19-12 defeat.

Johnson’s decision to leave comes a day before a wide-ranging review into the team’s World Cup campaign takes place.

Among the potential candidates to succeed Jonno are Graham Henry, who led New Zealand to World Cup glory, and Jim Mallinder the Northampton coach.

It is not yet known if Johnson’s scrum coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach Mike Ford will keep their jobs but a new manager is likely to want his own coaching staff.

Former England captain Will Carling posted on Twitter: “Sad for MJ. The man was an awesome player, incredible captain. One of THE greatest England players/ servants. Hope there is a role for him.”

Ex-England centre Jeremy Guscott said: “Martin Johnson is arguably the greatest player England have ever had, certainly on results, and in no way will what he has done as a coach reflect on him as a player.”

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