Johnson quits as England boss

Martin Johnson succumbed to the inevitable and resigned as England’s rugby union manager. Few were surprised at his departure, after he presided over an embarrassing World Cup campaign in New Zealand. England’s hopes of reaching a third successive final ended at the quarter-final stage with a defeat to France.

Johnson had struggled to find explanations for a campaign that was notable for scandals and tabloid sensations rather than rugby. 2011 will be remembered for players attending a dwarf-throwing evening, for Mike Tindall’s awkward scenes on CCTV with an ex-girlfriend, and for unimpressive performances on the pitch.

Johnson, an inspirational captain as a player, was unable to impose the same kind of discipline on his players as a manager, and that, as much as results, ultimately cost him his job.

As a manager, his record was mediocre. Since 2008 his team experienced 21 victories, 16 defeats and one draw. That is poor in comparison to his immediate predecessors.

England need to rebuild quickly for the 6 Nations, and the RFU will want to have a successor in place before the elite squad is named at the start of January.

One name mentioned as a possible option by many pundits is Nick Mallett, the former South Africa coach, currently in charge of Italy. Although he was a Springbok player, Mallett was actually born in England.

There is also some suggestion that Sir Clive Woodward, the World Cup-winning coach, could return to the role. Politics within the RFU suggest that is unlikely, but Woodward might welcome the chance to take control once more.

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