Andrew damages reputation as Johnson honourably departs

Monday’s press conference brought out a side of Martin Johnson that we rarely see. Renowned for his aggression and passion, the overwhelming vibe from Johnson yesterday evening was one of defeat, and remorse. The moments where the emotion closed on his throat may have not been visible to the naked eye, but were audible for everyone to hear. Moments earlier, he had leapt in front of questions towards Rob Andrew, deflecting away any wrongdoing on the part of the Director of Operations by bringing the blame back onto himself. It was painful to watch.

Yet in a sense the occasion felt less about the departure of Johnson, and more on why Andrew was to be retained. The discussion drifted from why Johnson had called it a day, to what exactly it was that Andrew did in his position. What followed was a patronising response from Andrew of how little the audience truly understood his impact on how England performed at the Rugby World Cup. Effectively, and excruciatingly, he declared that inside the “multi-million pound industry” that is the RFU, Johnson was left alone to run the team, and that Andrew’s role was away from the team and on the whole department, of which the team represented “a fifth of his responsibilities”. As a result, he affirmed that he would “absolutely not consider resigning”.

Herein lies the problem. Johnson confessed that perhaps if he hadn’t resigned, that someone might have turned around to him and suggested moving on was for this best. From the cutting way that he responded when questioned about his own future, Andrew suggested that kind of humility was beyond him. If he is truly as detached from the running of the England team as he proclaims, then why do so many potential coaching candidates turn up their noses at the prospect of working beneath him?

Clearly threatened, when prompted as to how England would be planning for the upcoming Six Nations tournament, at the time of writing 11 weeks away, in terms of squad selection and the appointment of a new head coach, Andrew’s snarky comment that he would be getting onto it “the second he left the press conference” was unnecessary. What was required was a clear, concise response about how planning was underway to appoint a successor, with a list of candidates drawn up and set to be interviewed over the coming weeks. In other words, to provide reassurance. What Andrew actually said soured an already grim atmosphere.

Back to Johnson, his future in the game is in doubt, as he responded when asked about whether he would coach again with a negative “who knows”. By self-assessing that he didn’t have the heart to put his mind into the next four years, he stated that as opposed to focusing on personal disappointments, he wanted to do what was best for England. Pragmatic and impersonal, his final comments mean that Johnson leaves with his integrity intact as a man, regardless of whether he has a future in coaching. Whilst Johnno left Twickenham portrayed in as positive a manner as possible, Andrew sat next to him as the villain. He has work to do to convince everyone who doesn’t understand apparently just how much of an important role he fills, as to why he should stay on.

by Ben Coles

Video footage below courtesy of RugbyMedia:

14 thoughts on “Andrew damages reputation as Johnson honourably departs

  1. @wilcosports

    Latest odds for England job.

    Graham Henry 3/1…….really!?

    What about Eddie O’Sullivan? Or have i missed something.

    Jim Mallinder 2/1Susp.

    Graham Henry 3/1Susp.

    John Kirwan 6/1Susp.

    Jake White 14/1Susp.

    Dean Ryan 16/1Susp.

    Eddie Jones 16/1Susp.

    Conor O’Shea 20/1Susp.

    Clive Woodward 25/1Susp.

    Shaun Edwards 25/1Susp.

    Dean Richards 25/1Susp.

    Andy Robinson 33/1Susp.

    Toby Booth 33/1Susp.

    Ewan McKenzie 33/1Susp.

    Ian McGeechan 33/1Susp.

    Richard Hill 50/1Susp.

    Steve Diamond 50/1Susp.

    Mike Catt 50/1Susp.

    Warren Gatland 100/1Susp.

    Lawrence Dallaglio 100/1Susp.

    Will Greenwood 200/1Susp.

    Will Carling 500/1Susp.

    Stuart Barnes 500/1Susp.

    Brian Moore 500/1Susp.

    Mike Tindall 1000/1

    1. I’m a little surprised not to see Rob Baxter in that list. It is a suggestion from left field for sure, but maybe he could be good for an outside bet. If he can do what he did with Exeter last year with the player pool at his disposal he could potentially translate that to the international stage and build for 2015.

      The key word there is “potentially.” Mallinder should ultimately get the job in my opinion.

  2. I think the title is wrong – he has just confirmed his reputation as a price who is only interested in keeping his job, whatever the consequences to rugby in England.

  3. Sad really. What all English rugby players and supporters want is an effective organisation, run by people who put the game before themselves.

    Rob Andrew is not effective any more (he has done some useful things in the past lest anyone forget) and he certainly isn’t putting the game before himself. Time to go methinks. Of course he won’t until pushed and then he will want a huge payoff. What a way to repay the game that made him!

  4. I come back to the point I’ve made before! Get a hardened CEO with a proven track record in running large FTSE companies to come in and sort this mess out! Preferably someone with no prior experience in the RFU. Any decent person will sack Andrews in a second apoint the best manager for the job and bring some credibility back to the RFU!

  5. Also the fact that Mallet has ruled himself out would suggest that not only is Andrews not going anywhere but that he is not prepared to relinquish control over the England manager which will probably mean that we won’t get the right man for the job as they won’t want to report to him!

  6. A lot of people fancy Graham Henry because he won the world cup. I’d be focusing more on the fact that he hadn’t won a world cup with New Zealand. Come on, they’ve been odds-on favourite every world cup and yet he managed to steer them out in the quarters and with a bit of luck won the trophy this time around.

    Eddie Jones has suggested himself. I feel he did manage to achieve something in creating a strong Australian side. John Kirwan and Kingsley Jones I would like to see putting their names forward. However, I don’t see two coaches in good respected positions running to the RFU where they know they’re going to be shit on from a great height, because that’s the image that the RFU is giving off right now. Mallet who doesn’t even have a job at the moment has distanced himself. I thought he’d be the best man, but he obviously sees a little of the crap he got from SARU in the RFU set up and isn’t willing to fight for the ability to do his job. Or maybe he sees de Villiers leaving South Africa and fancies another pop.

    England are going to struggle to find someone who wants to do the job and has credentials. I still think they should have snapped up Dean Richards last time around before the ‘bloodgate’ stink made him an impossible candidate. Many coaches mentioned an interest last time, only to be approached and withdraw their statements and England relied on taking an ex-player and making a talisman out of him rather than a coach.

    Let’s hope Mallinder’s comments weren’t just hot air. Mallinder to bring in West and retain Rowntree would be a good start. I wouldn’t mind seeing Catt and Jason Robinson involved in that coaching team too.

  7. In retrospect, the amusing thing is that it almost looks like Johnno decided to exit honourably just to highlight the dishonourable nature of those above him as if to say “Thanks for all the help in the last four years and take that Andrew!”

    1. I’m not sure democracy comes into it. I was going to make a Syrian analogy but don’t think that it is fair on the poor people of that nation to have further woes heaped on their shoulders by being likened to the RFU.

      1. You didn’t just miss my point. You actually found some other point and assumed it was mine. I was only making the abstract anology that he is effectively a dictator in that he appears to be the only one who can decide when he goes. Nothing more.
        Are so many of the comments on this blog trollish that you naturally expect that’s what all people are doing?

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