Johnson named English rugby team manager - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johnson named English rugby team manager

17/04/2008 05:40:23 AM Comments (0)

Martin Johnson has been appointed England team manager, with Brian Ashton losing the job of head coach.

In a major shake-up of the national team hierarchy, England's Rugby Football Union said Johnson will be in charge from July 1 - even though the former England captain has no coaching experience.

"He will bring a new and fresh approach to team development and preparation in his own inimitable style," RFU elite director of rugby Rob Andrew said on Wednesday.

"I would also like to thank Brian for the job he has done in difficult circumstances. He is an outstanding coach and deserves enormous credit for leading England to a second successive rugby World Cup final last year and securing the runners-up position in this year's Six Nations."

Johnson, who led England to the 2003 World Cup title as a player, will be in charge of appointing the coaching and management staff and the player selection process. He will report to Andrew.

"It is a great honour to be offered this position," Johnson said. "I am passionate about the England team and delivering success for it."

The 6-foot-8 (2.03 meter) Johnson made 84 appearances for England, 39 of them as captain.

Ashton was fired from England's senior team and offered the position of national academy head coach instead. He had been reappointed on an indefinite contract in December after England unexpectedly reached the final of last year's World Cup, losing to South Africa.

However, the team then had a mixed Six Nations campaign, with losses to Wales and Scotland and a disappointing game against Italy before it beat Ireland for the first time since 2003.

Ashton was England's attack coach before he replaced Andy Robinson in late 2006, after the team lost eight of nine games and dropped to seventh in the world rankings.

The RFU said Johnson had kept John Wells as forwards coach and Mike Ford as the defence coach. Another coach will also be appointed.

Johnson, whose wife is expecting their second child, agreed to a contract through 2011.

Andrew will be England's team manager for England's match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on June 1 and the two-test series in New Zealand. England plays in Auckland on June 14 and Christchurch on June 21.

Andrew will be helped by Wells, Ford, Graham Rowntree and Jon Callard - with input from Johnson.

"I will be working closely with Rob and the England coaching team on selection for the Barbarians match and the New Zealand tour, as well as selecting the first senior elite player squad of 32," Johnson said.

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