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Players' criticism triggered exits of England backroom staff

Published 14/12/2015

Andy Farrell, pictured, has left his England role along with Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt
Andy Farrell, pictured, has left his England role along with Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt

England's decision to axe assistant coach Andy Farrell was sparked by heavy criticism from senior players in the post-World Cup review.

A nucleus of senior players argued Farrell should shoulder a heavy burden for England's World Cup failure, Press Association Sport understands.

New head coach Eddie Jones has been given carte blanche to compose his own backroom staff, and had the option to retain former England boss Stuart Lancaster's assistants.

But a core of the squad told the Rugby Football Union (RFU) that Farrell had to be held accountable for his role in England becoming the worst-performing hosts in World Cup history.

Jones has wasted no time in lining up Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard as specialist coaches, with Lancaster's three assistants all surplus to requirements.

Once the decision was taken that Farrell would not be retained, Jones and the RFU bosses quickly agreed to complete an entire clear-out.

That has led to the departures of Farrell's fellow assistants Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt, offering Jones an entirely clean slate for his remodelled England.

Former England captain Borthwick is expected to assume specialist lineout duties in Jones' set-up, reprising the role he filled to fine effect with Japan during the World Cup.

Gustard should now leave Saracens and be tasked with transferring the fabled 'wolf pack' defence that he pioneered at the Aviva Premiership club into the Test arena.

Jones said he canvassed wide opinion before opting to dismiss assistant coaches Farrell, Rowntree and Catt.

Former Saracens coach Farrell is understood to have come under fire during the confidential post-World Cup review assessments from some sections of the playing squad, however.

World Cup boss Lancaster was previously criticised in some quarters for allowing Farrell too much authority, but the post-tournament review indicated continued frustrations among some players centred around England's playing style.

A number of England's top players are thought to have told the review panel that the Test side must now chase a more expansive game, suggesting Farrell was a central champion of the safer World Cup approach which ultimately backfired.

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