Thursday, 27 March 2008

Dead man walking?

The RFU issued a statement yesterday endorsing Rob Andrew "to strengthen the England team structure through the recruitment of a team manager and an additional specialist coach".

In other words: "OK Rob, go get Johnno."

So, after meeting a week ago, Andrew and Johnson can resume discussions about a role with England for the iconic former skipper. Good news if, like me, you think that Johnson can come in and make a difference if given the power to do so but also a week wasted as we all waited for Andrew to report to the RFU management board yesterday - a week in which significant progress might have been made if someone, anyone, within the RFU had been empowered to make decisions.

As things stand, further discussions can now take place and recommendations will then be made to a Club England meeting in early April, who will then in turn make the final recommendations to the RFU management board (whose next scheduled meeting is on April 30). Swift and decisive it is not.

Not only is this ridiculously protracted process detrimental to the England rugby team it is also palpably unfair to current head coach Brian Ashton. It's safe to say that Ashton hasn't impressed me hugely as head coach, but I've also said that he needs to be given carte blanche to do the job his way, with his own coaching appointments, before a fair judgement can be made. That said, if the RFU think he's not the man for the job they should say so now and put the poor chap out of his misery rather than leave him in limbo while they seek to recruit someone effectively to replace him.

It's a disgraceful way to treat a (by all accounts) thoroughly decent man and it can only be the prospect of a reasonable severance package that prevents Ashton from saying "Sod it, I'm off."

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