England’s major overhaul needs to start from the top

WORLD CUP winner Lawrence Dallaglio has reiterated calls for a major overhaul in the Rugby Football Union infrastructure in order to help the England team progress.

The giant former England No8 insists Martin Johnson’s role as coach is in danger of being undermined without complete unity at the top of the RFU ladder.

Indeed Dallaglio welcomes suggestions that his 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward should be brought in to work alongside under-fire Johnson in some advisory role – although not as a direct replacement for the RFU’s director of elite rugby, Rob Andrew.

“It’s not just about Martin Johnson as a coach,” Dallaglio told City.A.M. “There is a bigger picture here which needs to be explored. The buck doesn’t just stop with the coach, there needs to be a chemistry right throughout the set-up and there are certain things that need to be looked at.

“What it needs is someone with vision to create a structure where someone like Clive Woodward could come in and help Martin. That wouldn’t be as director, Rob Andrew holds that position so that is not vacant, but Francis Baron [RFU chief executive] is stepping down later this year, so maybe there’s an opportunity there.”

Dallaglio, currently a director at former club Wasps, made his feelings public on England’s disappointing Six Nations campaign, but after Johnson’s new-look side ended the tournament with a battling performance in France, Dallaglio admits he is feeling more positive ahead of this summer’s tour of Australasia.

“We finished on a high, ironically in defeat, but there were signs in Paris of what is potentially possible with this side. The problem is that five of the next six matches are against the best three sides in the world so it doesn’t get any easier. It’s going to be a very tough summer but a great challenge.”

Before they can contemplate the summer, however, some of Johnson’s players have the small matter of Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals to contend with this weekend – although not as many as the England coach would have liked.

Northampton are the sole English representatives in the Heineken Cup last eight – the Premiership’s worst performance in Europe for 11 years – while Wasps, Gloucester and Newcastle are in Challenge Cup action.

Some critics believe the performance is proof that the Premiership is lagging behind its European counterparts, but Dallaglio insists such suggestions are premature.

“It’s only been the one year,” he added. “Most nations have had their time and with the success that Leicester and Wasps have had in recent years, England is still in credit.

“Irish rugby is going through its biggest purple patch for some time, while the French sides are clearly benefiting from their wage structure.

“It would not be a European Cup if we won it every year. It’s very easy to criticise but I don’t believe there’s any need to panic.”

•Lawrence Dallaglio is an ambassador for Amlin, title partner of the Amlin Challenge Cup and premium partner of the Heineken Cup.