Johnson left to wait for RFU review verdict

THE Rugby Football Union will undertake a review of England’s wretched World Cup campaign before deciding whether to preserve manager Martin Johnson in his current position.

England’s campaign, tainted by a number of off-field controversies, came to an end on Saturday in Auckland at the quarter-final stage, as France exacted revenge for consecutive semi-final defeats with a deserved 19-12 victory.

Johnson, whose current contract runs until December, yesterday refused to comment on whether he intends to stay on, but matters could ultimately be taken out of his hands.

“The key thing is that we take the next four to six weeks with Martin and review what has gone on,” said RFU operations director Rob Andrew.

“Martin will reflect on what has happened and why we have gone out in the quarter-final of a World Cup.

“It is very disappointing that it has happened. The important thing now is to take stock. We said right from the start that we would take this right through to this World Cup with Martin in charge.

“We have done that and now we will sit down with Martin and look at what has happened. It is my job to look at the review and take it forward and at some point in the next few weeks reflect and then make a decision.”

Johnson took over in April 2008 and boasts only a marginally better win percentage than that of his predecessor Brian Ashton, who was sacked despite leading England to the 2007 World Cup final.

The RFU’s acting chief executive Martyn Thomas has already paved the way for Johnson to continue if he wants to, while the players have been united in their support of the 2003 World Cup winning skipper.

But the uncertainty currently engulfing the RFU could complicate matters for Johnson still further. Thomas resigned as chairman earlier this year because of controversy over the way former chief executive John Steele’s departure played out.

Despite a team failing on the pitch, not to mention one that has been accused of being out of control off it, and the governing body in a state of flux, Thomas yesterday denied English rugby was in meltdown.

“Twickenham as an organisation is not in meltdown as has been described,” he said. “What we have failed to do is get it right with the senior side.”