There's all sorts of speculation in the press at the moment that, following a meeting yesterday apparently between former skipper and legend Martin Johnson and England's Director of Elite Rugby Rob Andrew, Johnno is to be appointed as England Team Manager to work alongside head coach Brian Ashton.
I'm not so sure. Don't get me wrong, I'd love it, just love it (to quote Kevin Keegan) if Johnno was to come on board - but if he were to accept a role he would have to be in overall charge of the England coaching and management set-up. There's just no point in him just being there as some sort of front-of-house figurehead.
So, if Johnno is appointed, where does that leave the ageing head coach? Ashton has already gone on record as saying he doesn't want a manager who will want to be involved in rugby decisions and has apparently sounded out another former England skipper (albeit a useless one), Phil De Glanville, for the role. Ashton, it seems, wants someone to handle organisational matters plus relations with the RFU and the media - a role Johnson, one would imagine (and hope), simply wouldn't contemplate.
My theory is this...having recommended that each of the current England coaching team retain their respective positions following the extensive post-World Cup review, Rob Andrew can't very well turn round and now admit that he got this decision badly wrong as his own position would then almost be untenable. However, by giving Johnson the England Team Manager job (a role that Ashton had requested be filled), the responsibility for retaining or firing the coaching team can be passed to the former skipper, thus severely undermining Ashton's position to an extent that the beleaguered head coach may find he has no option but to resign - therefore satisfying the hawks within the RFU who see Ashton as a lame duck whilst at the same time allowing Andrew to save his own bacon.
Of course, this being the RFU, there's always a chance that there's absolutely nothing in this, that the status quo will prevail and that it will be business as usual until the next humiliating defeat (almost inevitably a record defeat to New Zealand in June).