Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

RFU remove 'buffer' to head coach

Twickenham
Twickenham

England will name a permanent head coach in time for next year's summer tour to South Africa, with an interim appointment overseeing the RBS 6 Nations.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) met on Wednesday to discuss and approve the recommendations made by the Professional Game Board's review into England's World Cup fiasco.

An overhaul of the RFU's structure effectively sees Rob Andrew demoted, with his new position of professional rugby director stripping him of any involvement with the senior team.

The demise of the director of elite rugby role previously held by Andrew rules out the possibility of Sir Clive Woodward returning to Twickenham to fill a post many felt he was ideally suited to.

And in a move that will be welcomed by potential candidates to succeed Martin Johnson - including Nick Mallett, Wayne Smith and Jake White - the new head coach will report directly to the chief executive and board.

Earlier this week Mallett, the highly-rated former South Africa and Italy coach, revealed he would only consider an approach from the RFU if no layer of management existed between himself and the CEO.

PGB chairman and RFU board member Ian Metcalfe explained the significance of the change and declared no stone would be left unturned in their pursuit of the outstanding candidate, saying: "The view of the head coaches we've had conversations with is that they want to report direct to the chief executive of the board.

"(Wales coach) Warren Gatland reports directly to Roger Lewis in Wales. (New Zealand coach) Graham Henry reports directly to his board. That direct relationship is important. The expression buffer has been used and the head coaches I've spoken to don't want a buffer. They don't mind having accountability as long as they have responsibility.

"Our appetite is to get the best head coach possible and then working with him to get the best assistant coaches possible. For the head coach, our principle is to get the best person possible. I'd love them to be English, but I'd rather have the best, whatever their nationality."

Metcalfe refused to speculate on the identity of the interim coach, but admitted it was a pressing issue that must be addressed as soon as possible, while the appointment of a high-profile team manager to handle non-playing responsibilities has also been given the green light.

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