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Smith defends England role

Former England attack coach Brian Smith, who was criticised in a leaked report into the team's dismal World Cup, has defended his role in the side's performance.

Smith followed team manager Martin Johnson in resigning from his post following a tournament beset by failings on the pitch and disciplinary problems off it.

He told The Independent: "People who don't get what they think they should out of a situation... they've always taken pot-shots and they always will. But yes, I was pretty angry about the way things were presented."

Separate reports were commissioned by the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Players' Association and the Aviva Premiership clubs into what went wrong in New Zealand.

And when extracts from one of those reports were subsequently leaked to the Times, Johnson's coaching team came in for some of the fiercest feedback. One unnamed player, asked where blame lay for the team's failings, reportedly said: "It wasn't Johnno, it was that Johnno was surrounded by the wrong people."

RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that trust had broken down "between some of the coaches and players and between some of the senior players group and some of the younger members".

Ending his silence on the leaked report, Smith added: "That episode was very difficult, not least for my wife. The only good thing was that it didn't affect my kids, them being so young (Smith has three children under the age of five).

"It's an easy thing to say, that there was this Leicester mafia in charge of England (Johnson, scrum coach Graham Rowntree and forwards coach John Wells) and that I clashed with them. Things didn't happen the way some people make out. As far as I was concerned those debates were healthy. I have no issues on that score.

"Did I coach well enough? Did I contribute to the best of my ability? Looking back, I think I did pretty well. Last year, only two international sides scored more tries than England - New Zealand and Australia - and we won 10 of our 13 games. I simply don't accept this idea that we produced a stagnant side."


From Belfast Telegraph