Rugby Rugby

Johnson quits as England rugby coach


LONDON, England, November 16 – Under-fire England team manager Martin Johnson has quit after a disappointing rugby World Cup in New Zealand that was marred by ill-discipline, reports said on Wednesday.

Johnson was blamed for failing to impose his will on the England squad during the tournament, in which his team exited at the quarter-final stage following defeat by France.

He and England’s director of elite rugby Rob Andrew will hold a press conference at Twickenham at 1600GMT, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said, although it added it would make no official comment until then.

Johnson, 41, who lifted the World Cup with England as captain in Australia in 2003, has been the team’s manager for three and half years.

England entered this year’s World Cup with high hopes, but their campaign was blighted by images of senior player Mike Tindall apparently drunk in a Queenstown nightclub after a group stage match.

Tindall, who is married to Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, was fined and dropped from the England squad for his conduct relating to the drunken night out.

Players were also fined for “inappropriate” remarks they made to a female member of hotel staff in Dunedin.

At the time, Johnson defended Tindall, who was forced to apologise for misleading the England management about his movements that night.

The off-field antics continued to hit the headlines even after England were knocked out of the tournament, as Manu Tuilagi was detained by police and fined by his England bosses for leaping off a ferry into Auckland harbour.

England’s hopes were ended when they were beaten 19-12 by France, who went on to lose to the All Blacks in the final.

Johnson’s only tournament success as coach was in the Six Nations earlier this year.

The RFU is conducting an investigation into what went wrong in New Zealand.

Former England captain Will Carling said he hoped Johnson would be given a new role in the national set-up.

“Sad for MJ. The man was an awesome player, incredible captain. One of THE greatest England players/servants. Hope there is a role for him,” Carling said in a Twitter posting.