Johson deciding on England RU future

by Staff Writer

Martin Johnson will reflect on England's failed World Cup campaign and take part in the Rugby Football Union's review following the team's quarter-final exit before a decision is made whether he stays on as manager.

Johnson's contract expires in December after taking over in 2008 and he declined to answer questions about his future in the aftermath of the 19-12 loss to France at Eden Park on Saturday that ended England's quest to become the first team to reach three World Cup finals.

On Sunday, however, Johnson suggested he had unfinished business with England and lamented the lost opportunity.

"You know you are alive. It has not been dull," said Johnson, England's World Cup-winning captain in 2003. "Sometimes you come off after a game and you say the team was a lot better than us today. It was like that in 1995 when we lost (to New Zealand in the semifinals), but yesterday we didn't help ourselves enough in that game. I just felt we added too much to our own downfall.

"Emotions are still very raw for everyone, so you need to step away from it. We need to step away now and get a bit of perspective on everything."

RFU operations director Rob Andrew, a former playing partner, said he would consult with Johnson before making a decision in about six weeks.

"Martin will reflect on what has happened and why we have gone out in the quarterfinal of a World Cup. It is very disappointing that it has happened," Andrew said.

"The important thing now is to take stock.

"It is my job within the RFU to look at the review and take it forward and at some point in the next few weeks reflect and then make a decision. We will do that as quickly and as openly possible as we can."

The tour was just as disappointing off the field for England.

Mike Tindall's infamous night out with a blonde woman who wasn't his recently married royal wife was front and back page news for much of the tournament, while three players were reprimanded for making lewd comments to a female hotel worker in Dunedin.

Two assistant coaches were then stood down by the RFU amid a ball switching scandal in the 67-3 win against Romania.

Captain and flanker Lewis Moody, flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, hooker Steve Thompson, lock Simon Shaw and Tindall have all played their last World Cup match while their immediate Test future with England is also in doubt.

The future Test team will likely be built around scrumhalf Ben Youngs, centre Manu Tuilagi, fullback Ben Foden, winger Chris Ashton, flanker Tom Croft and lock Courtney Lawes.

There were some highlights. Ashton is currently the leading scorer at the tournament with six tries, Tuilagi was one of the few English players to emerge from the loss to France with an enhanced reputation and Youngs was often able to lift the attacking tempo when needed.

"There are some good young players coming through," Johnson said. "It is only over a year ago that guys like Ben Youngs were making their first start. It was only a couple of months ago that we were debating whether it was best to have Manu Tuilagi coming off the bench or getting a start.

"So if in the next 18 months or two years we can produce a crop of young players like that then the national team will be in a good place."

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