England Plans ’Robust’ Review of Failed Rugby World Cup Campaign

Rob Andrew, operations director at the Rugby Football Union, will head a review of England’s failed World Cup campaign before deciding whether Martin Johnson should continue as team manager.

England, which reached the past two finals and won the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, exited the tournament in the quarterfinals yesterday with a 19-12 loss to France.

“We need to look at this review in a very robust manner over the next few weeks,” Andrew said today at a news conference in Auckland. “We have to take stock, not overreact one way or another.”

England’s elimination to a France team that had limped into the last eight after two straight losses fell short of its target of making at least the semifinals and followed on and off-field controversies at the tournament in New Zealand.

Johnson reprimanded three players for making inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker and also defended Mike Tindall’s conduct after a night out drinking with teammates that attracted tabloid headlines. Johnson said any misleading information that Tindall, who is married to Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, gave as to his whereabouts that night was a simple mistake.

Two of England’s assistant coaches also received a one-game ban from the RFU for illegally switching a match ball during England’s pool match victory over Romania. The RFU was forced to act on the matter after tournament organizer Rugby World Cup Ltd. opened a misconduct investigation.

Johnson, whose contract expires in December, said in his post-match press conference that he would wait before considering his options. He’s been in charge of England since April 2008 and has a win-ratio of 56 percent from 38 Tests.

Emotions Raw

“Emotions are still very raw for everyone so you need to step away from it,” Johnson, who captained England to its only World Cup title eight years ago, said today. “We need to step away now and get a bit of perspective on everything.”

Andrew, a former England fly-half, said the RFU would take the next four to six weeks with Johnson reviewing the national team’s performance.

“We said at the beginning that we would take this right through with Martin to the World Cup,” Andrew said. “Now that has happened we will look at what has gone on. The important thing is we reflect and make a decision going forward.”

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