RFU U-turn is a big boost for Johnson

ENGLAND manager Martin Johnson will not have his influence compromised by the incoming performance director after the Rugby Football Union performed a dramatic u-turn by diluting the role.

The governing body had outlined their intention for the new man, potentially World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, to oversee the whole elite structure, from the senior Test squad down to age-group level.

But the RFU have drastically redrawn the job specification to the extent that Johnson will now remain the figurehead of English rugby and will continue to report to chief executive John Steele, at least until after September’s World Cup.

An RFU statement read: “With the Rugby World Cup starting in the autumn and the positive development of the senior team so far, the RFU board is keen not to upset the momentum established.

“It has therefore approved a change to the job description for the role. The changed job description and removes the senior team and its management from the performance director responsibilities.

“It caps their involvement at the England Saxons level to reinforce the point that this is about talent development up through the men and women's age group teams and about defining a long term performance strategy.”

The three candidates for the performance role, including Woodward, will be interviewed later this month based on the new brief.