Johnson to decide his own future after Cup

by Staff Writer

England manager Martin Johnson has effectively been given the green light to decide his own future after the World Cup, as an extraordinary administrative crisis engulfs Twickenham.

The Rugby Football Union, England's national governing body, currently has no permanent chairman or chief executive just nine weeks before the World Cup starts in New Zealand as a result of its botched plan to hire a performance director.

Former chief executive John Steele was forced out last month after changing the job description for the new, and still unfilled, position of performance director in May, stripping the role of any responsibility for England's senior Test team.

That was seen as a deliberate snub to Sir Clive Woodward, strongly tipped for the role, by making the post seemingly unworthy of the 2003 England World Cup-winning coach and other high-profile candidates.

Yet 48 hours later another U-turn saw the initial terms of the job re-instated.

Martyn Thomas quit as RFU chairman on Sunday after reportedly being criticised in a review of the fiasco by Judge Jeff Blackett, the Union's chief disciplinary officer.

But he remains as acting chief executive with Paul Murphy, who will take over as RFU president next year, the interim chairman.

Meanwhile 2003 World Cup-winning captain Johnson remains in his post.

He guided England to their first Six Nations title in eight years last season and the former lock has said he finds being England manager "very addictive".

Johnson's contract expires in December and if he wants to stay on it is by no means certain with whom he would have contract talks, although Thomas has said he would fill in if required.

A successful World Cup - which would mean a semi-final spot at least after England's appearances in the 2003 and 2007 finals - would all but assure Johnson of a new contract and Thomas said on Monday: "Martin is such an honest assessor of his own performance that he will judge himself after the World Cup.

"He will turn around and say he is pleased with what he has done and he is staying or that, because he is very self-critical, that he is not happy.

"There is unlikely to be a CEO before January. I will have no problem in sitting down with Martin after the World Cup and resolving his position in the interests of England and the coaching team."

The England squad are due to meet a week on Monday for the build-up to their August World Cup warm-up matches against Wales, home and away, and Ireland.

England begin the tournament proper against Argentina in Dunedin on September 10 and Thomas insisted the administrative upheaval had had no effect on the players and team management,

"I have spoken to Martin Johnson and the coaches," Thomas said.

"They said to me that what was going on at Twickenham was not on their radar. The players are not interested in what is happening here."