This website uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more by viewing our privacy and cookie policy.

Press Conference Comments From Rob Andrew and Martyn Thomas regarding the England Head Coach Role

30 November 2006

All replies from Rob Andrew unless stated

Alex Spink (Daily Mirror) asked Rob about the chronology of events from Saturday through to the announcement about Andy Robinson stepping down.
"Following the Argentina game, when it was agreed that we would see out the South Africa matches, and the result of the second match, a discussion was had on the Saturday evening and Sunday between myself, Francis (Baron), John Spencer, the Chairman of Club England, Martyn as Chairman of the Management Board and other members of Club England.

"It was felt that the right thing to do was for Andy and the Union to part company and discussions have been had with Andy over the last couple of days to resolve outstanding legal issues."

Steve Bale (Daily Express) asked Rob if Andy had resigned
"I think you have seen the statement, which is a statement of fact."

Steve Bale asked Rob what his view was of Andy Robinson's comments that the current structure and system for developing elite athletes in this country is not working.
"When I took the job three months ago I knew that some of the issues that were going to come up over the next couple of years were going to be pretty important to the future of the English game and it was one of the reasons why I took the job. Recent events have brought forward that agenda.

"Over the last three months the RFU have been working particularly hard on proposals to effect change in the structure of the English game. Those proposals will probably be available in the early part of next year. But I think it's clear that what has happened over the last two or three years is that we have been left behind in England and the other countries and their structure have leapfrogged us in terms of elite player preparation.

"What we have to do is find a solution to the ongoing problems that have probably been ongoing for the 10 years of professional rugby.

"Part of my job is about the next 10 years. It's not just about the next month, although the next month is very important to all English rugby fans, and the 3rd of February (v Scotland, Twickenham) and next September (Rugby World Cup) in particular. That is clearly something that needs considering over the next few weeks but we are not going to rush that. But it's also about the next 10 years and we have to get that right, otherwise we will be continually up against the problems we have had for the last two or three years."

Mick Cleary (Daily Telegraph) asked whether, if the two South Africa games had gone differently, either in performance and/or result, England have parted company with Andy Robinson.
"That's a hypothetical question but the decision wasn't made two weeks ago if that is what you are asking."

Peter Jackson (Daily Mail) asked Rob if he would now have to come to the �rescue', albeit in a caretaker capacity/managerial role.
No, that is not part of the thinking that has been going on in the last few hours. We now have to take our time and reflect on what is required next in the context of the rest of the season, the World Cup and beyond the World Cup. 

Mick Cleary asked whether Rob had formulated any ideas about whether the appointment would be a manager or a head coach.
"There are lots of things to consider and there are processes, in terms of Club England and Management Board, to whom I need to recommend things. There are also complications in whatever direction you go as to who might or might not be available and who might or might not want to do the job."

Julian Guyer (AFP) asked why the decision to change the coach had been taken so relatively close to the World Cup.
"I think that you have to look at everything in the last few games and over the last 12 months.

"It's been an agreed termination of Andy's contract because at this point in time we think it is the best thing to do to move English rugby forward. It's not easy to do because Andy has been a great servant to the Union and everybody knows that. But we felt that after the Argentina game and the second South Africa test that changes needed to be made."

Peter Jackson asked Rob if the next head coach might not come from the three existing coaches.
"I'm not saying anything on that. We have three coaches employed by the Union who have only been there since May/June time, so we have to reflect on all the possibilities, whether it's someone in that group who steps up or whether someone comes in and is prepared to work with that group of coaches."

Mick Cleary asked Rob whether the decision or recommendation on the appointment would be his.
"No, it will be clearly discussed. The forum is Club England and out of that will come a recommendation, influenced by myself, to the Management Board."

Peter Jackson asked whether there might be a scenario in which a prospective head coach wants the job but does not want to work with the coaches in situ.
"In a hypothetical world that is a possibility but that is something we have to consider in what we do next."

Mick Cleary asked if the jobs of the assistant coaches - Brian Ashton, Mike Ford and John Wells - were safe.
"We want to calm everything down over the next few months. They have only been in place for six games so certainly, from a management point of view, we have had enough upheaval in the last six months and we probably want to avoid any more."

Peter Jackson asked if Rob expected any solution to carry England through to 2011 or just be a short term fix.
"All options are being looked at and I don't think you can say it would be a solution through to 2011. That's a long time away and we have to look at all the options to see what is the best. It might be a short term option, it might be a medium term option - but it's all very hypothetical."

Mitch Phillips (Reuters) asked Rob whether he agreed with Andy Robinson's parting comment about the structure of English rugby.
"The whole thing has been difficult. There is no doubt that there is a fundamental problem in the current structure of the management of elite players which has been highlighted by what other countries are doing, particularly Ireland and Wales to a degree."

"The two countries that are struggling at international level with their systems are France and England. The skill is finding a long term solution. And it has to be long term, not a case of putting more sticking plaster on it because I think what we have seen in the last month is the last of the sticking plaster come off. We can't have another sticking plaster solution to this because it just doesn't work."

Steve Bale asked if there was not some urgency about the situation given that the next game against Scotland was only nine weeks away.
It's very urgent but we are not going to rush into making a decision which we find in six months time is the wrong one.

Mick Cleary asked why the system was good enough in  2003 but not today.
"It's a good question and I'm not sure anybody knows the answer. In 2003 it was probably a combination of a great head coach, a great group of players and a professional system which for it's time maybe got the jump on other countries.

"But what we have seen over the last three years is that other countries have adapted their systems and they have now leapfrogged the system we had in place in 2003.

"It looks to me that the physical preparation, in particular the number of games elite players play and the quality of rugby that some of them play in other nations, in other competitions on a regular basis, has superseded the system that worked pre 2003. But that is only a subjective view."

Julian Guyer asked whether the desire to avoid upheaval reduced the chances of appointing a head coach from outside the RFU and Mick Cleary asked whether it would have to be an Englishman      
It doesn't have to be an Englishman but the area of coach development is something we also have to consider in the context of long-term planning. We don't necessarily have a culture of coach development in this country which is why we have got so many overseas coaches. We have to encourage English coaches through the system and to encourage their development. That is something that the RFU has looked at closely over the last five or six years.

Peter Jackson asked if the no sticking plaster solution might involve a lot of money in terms of buying people out of contracts and compensation.
"The long term solution is in the structure of the game. The short or long term solution on the coaching front needs to be assessed over the next few weeks to see what is practical and available."

Peter Jackson asked if Rob expected to know by January 1 who would be brought in.
"I'm not going to be held to any dates."

David Lewellyn (Independent) asked if the expert external advice mentioned in the statement were people outside the RFU or the Game and if a proper structure was something he wanted introduced.
"It's external professional advice outside rugby - legal and financial. Long term we have to find a better way of managing the system."

Mick Cleary asked why Andy Robinson was deemed good enough to carry on six months ago when there was a big upheaval and he no longer was.
"I wasn't involved in any decision-making in April. I can only take what has been discussed over the last three months and look at the previous two years in terms of the overall context about what we feel is right for English rugby."

Mitch Phillips asked Rob whether, following his pre-series comments that he would accept four defeats if he saw encouraging signs of progress, he had seen any.
"You just have to look at the reaction of all sorts of elements of the English game over the last month. Some of the aspects of the last three games in particular haven't moved England forward, not just in terms of results but in the actual performances themselves."

Mick Cleary asked Rob whether he felt compromised as one of the five on selection but who had to ultimately judge people.
"The selection panel was there to discuss selection issues over each of the four games. But as we made clear from the outset, the head coach picks the team and often, after selection meetings the team wasn't finalised until the next day, when Andy decided the next day on various areas.

At the end of the day I am comfortable that the head coach has the final say on selection and Andy was comfortable in terms of is final say on selection and how the team played the game. Ultimately what happens on the pitch is the head coach's responsibility.

Mick Cleary asked whether Rob's input into selection would continue.
"We'll have to discuss that."

Peter Jackson asked how difficult it had been personally to break the news to Andy.
"I knew when I came into the role that decisions have to be taken. That is what this role is about. It's about short, medium and long term decision to put into the game a long term structure that quite clearly isn't there at the moment. It's about the structure of the game and bringing through the right quality of player to represent England and that clearly hasn't happened in the last three years. That's why the job was created in the first place - but this is not where we wish to be at the end of November."

Peter Jackson asked Martyn Thomas whether he was resigned to the RFU becoming involved in some heavy expenditure in restructuring the coaching set-up over the next two months.
Martyn Thomas said: "I won't speculate on that. Rob is in charge of everything to do with Elite Rugby. That is matter for Club England and he is a member of that group and they will make their recommendation to the Management Board."

Steve Bale asked Martyn whether he had any regrets about turning a three-test series into a four-test November considering there was opposition from the playing side of the RFU and some people, not least Andy Robinson, thought that some of his problems stemmed from having the extra game.
"No, the decision by the Management Board was based on celebrating the creation of stadium, three sides of it by the amateur era and one side by the professional era. In everything there is in an element of commercial activity. Every test match and Premiership match is commercial."

Mick Cleary asked Rob if he had written off retaining the World Cup.
"I'm never going to write anything off. I am going to be realistic about where we are. I said in September that we would only be able to judge that in the Six Nations and on the way through in the Autumn international we have found out a few things about a few people. Maybe we have found out a few things that we didn't necessarily want to but we have. We have to take those things through to the Six Nations and see where we are at the end of that."

Mick Cleary asked whether the IRB ranking of seventh was a true reflection of where England are.
"What do they say in football - the table never lies."

David Lewellyn asked Martyn whether there were any golden handcuffs on Andy Robinson or if he was free to take up a job in rugby anywhere else.
Martyn Thomas said: "There are no golden handcuffs."

Rob Kitson (Guardian) asked Rob whether he would be canvassing the view of the players on the new coaching set-up.
"Not on any new coaching set-up. We will canvas players as part of the review process about what has happened in the last month."