Posts Tagged ‘Martin Johnson’


Written by Rod Crowley: A 32 man squad described as the most inexperienced squad for 50 years have been selected by England’s Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster for the forthcoming Six Nations.
There are an incredible 15 changes from the squad chosen by former Head Coach, Martin Johnson that went to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Among those left out were usual first teamers, Mike Tindall, Mark Cueto and Nick Easter and in comes nine first time call ups including as expected Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan and scrum half Lee Dickson.
Lancaster spoke with great enthusiasm about his immediate plans using the buzz term of a ‘leadership group’ within the squad that he intends to nurture when training begins in earnest. He did stop short of naming his captain but hinted that the likes of Chris Robshaw, Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood and even Toby Flood were names that he was considering.
Lancaster was also at pains to point out that he wants the “England team to become the very best and to beat those who are currently rated as the very best”. Ambitious yes but strong words from a seemingly highly committed Head Coach.
He expressed no real concerns about the huge change his selection has already bought about, making it clear that any player selected was in on merit and most were already in the thoughts of the outgoing coaching team.
M Botha – Saracens 
C Clark – Northampton
A Corbisiero – London Irish
D Cole – Leicester
T Croft – Leicester
T Wood – Northampton
L Deacon – Leicester
P Dowson – Northampton
D Hartley – Northampton
C Lawes – Northampton
J Marler – Harlequins
L Mears – Bath
B Morgan – Scarlets
T Palmer – Stade Francais
C Robshaw – Harlequins
M Stevens – Saracens
R Webber – Wasps
D Wilson – Bath
C Ashton – Northampton
B Barritt – Saracens
M Brown – Harlequins
L Dickson – Northampton
O Farrell – Saracens
T Flood – Leicester
B Foden – Northampton 
C Hodgson – Saracens
C Sharples – Gloucester
J Simpson – Wasps
D Strettle – Saracens
M Tuilagi – Leicester
J Turner-Hall – Harlequins
B Youngs – Leicester
Of the newcomers, it is Farrell who has captured the most imagination. Likened in his kicking ability to the great Johnny Wilkinson, Farrell is the son of former England player, Andy Farrell who will be assistant Head Coach to Lancaster in the training set up. Farrell the son has been playing inside centre for Aviva Premiership champions Saracens, but is equally adept at playing fly half. He is quick, has a great pass, a silky side step and is not scared to get stuck into the opposition. The 20 year old is set to be an England player for a very long time.
England kicks off their Six Nations campaign in a Calcutta Cup match against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4th. How the new look side performs will be something fans and press will be anticipating with bated breath but it is good to see that changes have been made after the World Cup display and time must be given to both the management and players as the team looks to move forward. Their full programme of games is as follows:
4th February – Scotland v England
11th February – Italy v England
25th February – England v Wales
11th March – France v England
17th March – England v Ireland
Written by Rod Crowley: Whether he wants the job on a permanent time basis or not, Stuart Lancaster will be the first man to be seriously considered by the RFU as the successor to recently resigned Head Coach, Martin Johnson. The 42 year old has been given the job of caretaker Head Coach for the 2012 Six Nations tournament which, if successful, will at the very least put him on the shortlist for the job on a permanent basis.
Lancaster, who coached an England XV back in June in their victorious game against the Barbarians, has also been in charge for the last ten games of the Saxons, England’s second team, impressively winning nine of them as well as lifting the 2010 Churchill Cup. Prior to that he had been Head of Elite Player Development at the RFU appointed following a successful two year stint between 2006-08 as Director of Rugby at Leeds.
Specialising on offence, Lancaster will be taking charge of the backs as well as England’s overall strategy during the Six Nations. He will be assisted by Saracens first team coach, Andy Farrell and will leave the job of scrummage coach in the hands of Graham Rowntree, who is the only member of Johnson’s coaching team to remain in post.
Certainly there is plenty to be excited about with this new set up, particularly as Lancaster is a hugely respected figure within Rugby Union while Farrell is working wonders at Saracens currently and Rowntree came out of England’s disastrous World Cup campaign with a huge amount of credit.
England fans will obviously want to know at the earliest what players from Johnson’s World Cup squad will be included in Lancaster’s Six Nations plans but he is known to be very keen on backs such Ugo Monye, Shontayne Hape, Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, whilst in the forwards he will be keen to give prop Alex Corbisiero a chance and is said to be in favour of replacing Lewis Moody as both captain and open side flanker with Northampton’s outstanding Tom Wood.
Team discipline on and off the pitch will be huge issues for Lancaster, who is known for his fiery nature and his attention to detail. He is also a very good motivator who uses the well known ‘stick and carrot method to great effect. One to one meetings with all the players will become a feature of England training in which he leaves players under no doubt of the job that they have been selected to do. He is also a coach that likes nothing more than getting on the pitch to practice with the players and he is not frightened to mix it within reason.
His first match in charge will be the Calcutta Cup encounter with Scotland on February 4th, followed by a trip to Rome before taking on Wales at Twickenham. Their fourth game will come in Paris against Rugby World Cup runners up, France before playing the final game of the tournament against Ireland at Twickenham on, of all days, St Patrick’s Day, March 17th. 
After making the World Cup Final, it is France who are the favourites in the six nations betting to win the tournament at odds of 2/1. Wales, who reached the semi finals are second favourites to win at 11/4 with England rated a 10/3 chance ahead of Ireland (13/2) and Scotland (25/1) and whilst they may have their work cut out to prove doubters wrong, the England players aren’t a bad collective of players and if rejuvenated under the guidance of Lancaster, then a challenge Six Nations would not be a surprise.

Martin Johnson has decided to resign as manager of the England Rugby team, speculation had been mounting whether Johnson would remain at helm. After being let down by the players on and off the field, Johnson has called time on his career as national team coach.

England failed to live up to expectations at this year World Cup in New Zealand and were knocked out by France in the quarter-finals but it was their off-field behaviour that will be remembered.

Vice-captain Mike Tindall admitted misleading the team management over a night out in Queenstown in which the player was fined £25,000 and told his England career was over after a drinking session that spiralled out of control in New Zealand.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, with James Haskell and Chris Ashton also reprimanded for bad behaviour, while Manu Tuilagi was fined for jumping off a ferry in Auckland harbour.

Johnson has been roundly criticised for a lack of discipline in his squad and it was the high-profile misbehaviour of Tindall – now a member of the royal family after his marriage to Zara Philips – that attracted the most negative publicity.

Johnson, who captained England to their World Cup triumph in 2003, called a meeting with his coaching team on Wednesday morning to explain his decision to walk away from the job he has held since July 2008. 

Johnson decision to retire will come as no surprise after the level of criticism he had received after England’s poor performance in New Zealand.

Delon Armitage has insisted that his bad boy days are behind him as he looks to cement his place in England’s World Cup squad, Armitage has been selected to play for England against Wales this weekend and the player would like to resurrect his career with England.

Armitage was banned twice last season, including an eight week suspension for shoving and abusing an anti-doping official which ruled him out of the RBS Six Nations, the player enjoyed a successful start to his England career in 2008-09 season and the England management kept faith in him.

Although the player was banned, the 27-year-old was allowed to train with the England squad and on Saturday will get his chance to start a Test for the first time in 17 months and press his claims for World Cup selection.

“It is no secret I have found it hard to manage by emotions,” admitted Armitage.

“I play the game with passion and sometimes with a little bit too much. That is what I have been working on. I like playing on the edge; it just needs to be a little bit controlled sometimes.

“The last year didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. I am just glad I am here with an opportunity to get back in the squad.

“I want to play for England and nothing is going to stop me getting where I want to get. It has been a long wait for me.

“What happened happened. I felt really bad about it but now I am back focused on playing well for England and trying to get into the World Cup squad.”

Matt Stevens has been called up to the England’s 45-man World Cup training squad, the Saracens prop has been in excellent form this season following his journey working his way back from a two-year ban from the sport for cocaine use.

He joins uncapped players Manu Tuilagi, Thomas Waldrom,  Mouritz Botha,  Joe Simpson  and Charlie Sharples who has also been called up to the training squad.

England manager Martin Johnson said: “Every one of these players has the chance to be in that final 30 going to New Zealand.

“The camp is going to be intense and competitive, as you would expect leading up to a World Cup, but all the players are ready for it.

“We have guys such as Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall who have been in this situation before but also a lot of players who won’t have experienced a World Cup training camp.

“It’s now up to all of them to set down their marker over the next 10 weeks before we head to New Zealand.”

England’s 45-man Rugby World Cup training squad:

Forwards: Mouritz Botha (Saracens), George Chuter (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Hendre Fourie (Sale Sharks), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Unattached), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Lewis Moody (Bath Rugby), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens  (Saracens), Steve Thompson (London Wasps), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Joe Worsley (London Wasps).

Backs: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby), David Strettle (Saracens), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

England have been dealt with a huge blow that Captain Lewis Moody has been ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering a knee ligament injury.

Moody received the injury against Aironi in Bath’s 55-16 Heineken Cup win on Sunday when he looked to have twisted his knee during a lineout drive.

Bath coach Steve Meehan thought the problem was not serious, but after subsequent tests the club have now confirmed an injury to Moody’s medial collateral ligament.

The former Leicester flanker could miss England’s opening three RBS 6 Nations games against Wales, Italy and France.

Moody has won 66 England caps and led England to their historic victory over Australia in last year’s autumn internationals.

England coach Martin Johnson said: “It is always disappointing to lose a player and leader of Lewis’ calibre but as I have consistently said, good teams adapt to injuries and that is what we intend to do.

“While this could still mean Lewis plays a role in the Six Nations, it does mean that another player gets the chance to step up and make it hard for him to get the shirt back.”

Martin Johnson impressed with England’s performance

England boss Martin Johnson is confident his side are making progress despite finishing their autumn campaign with defeat to South Africa. Yet Johnson insists England is no longer a collection of individuals, but a team gelling together and ready to embark on the Six Nations tournament in little more than two months time.

Although losing the final game against the current World Champions, England show displays of grit and determination to overcome Australia and Western Samoa after losing the first game against New Zealand.

“We’re far better for getting through a Test series,” he said.

“It’s a learning experience emotionally, controlling the ups and downs and dealing with the intensity for some of the guys and they have done it very well really.

“We do expect more. We set our standards and we did not meet those clearly.

“But we are playing good teams. You make mistakes and errors and people get injured and you get penalised and you disagree and all these things, but you have to overcome them.

“The team’s going in the right direction and we can be a pretty good team but consistency is the key.

“Everyone in the autumn series, with the exception of the All Blacks, has been a bit up and down. Good Test teams go out and are difficult to beat every week.”

Johnson is under no illusion that there is room for improvement, but he is happy with how the side has developed during the autumn campaign.

“You always want to improve and move on and we have certainly done it,” said Johnson.

“As a group just having the time together and going through ups and downs is huge. I think we’ve got a team now definitely. Everyone wants to be in it. It’s very competitive to get in it.

“The medics have done a great job keeping everyone fit and healthy and the coaches have done a great job as well.

“No-one’s going to sit back and think we’re anywhere near there. There is a long way to go and a long way we can go.

“Loads of great pluses. Everyone who has played has played well. For those guys in sub-10, sub-20 Test matches everything is new and absorbed.”