John Wells and Mike Ford leave RFU with immediate effect

John Wells and Mike Ford, two of the England coaches whose reputations were trashed last month in leaked reviews of the World Cup campaign by the players, left the Rugby Football Union on Wednesday, following Martin Johnson and Brian Smith.

Both Wells and Ford were in their sixth year with England. Wells, a former Leicester head coach, joined from the national academy while Ford was recruited from Saracens. They will not remain with the RFU in any capacity having both opted to look elsewhere.

"John and Mike have given great service to England and rugby in this country over many years and their contribution is appreciated," said Stephen Brown, the RFU's acting chief executive. "On behalf of the union I would like to wish them well in the next stages of their careers."

Both men served under two head coaches, Andy Robinson and Brian Ashton, before Johnson was appointed team manager in 2008. Despite England making the 2007 World Cup final and winning the Six Nations this year, none of the management team, except Graham Rowntree, who is part of the interim England set-up, received much media acclaim and Johnson was constantly asked when he was going to have a coaching shakeup.

Rowntree is one of a coaching team of three. It is headed by Stuart Lancaster, who has been in charge of the Saxons, before a permanent team is appointed at the end of the Six Nations.

Lancaster may only have five matches at the helm but he is determined to do the job his way. The pre-Six Nations training camp in Portugal looks like being abandoned, he wants to take the squad out of its training base in Bagshot and spread training sessions around the country and he will not be activating the rest period of one match due to the England squad players in the next month.

"We decided that given the clubs were without their World Cup players for a substantial period up to and during the tournament it was right that the elite player scheme period should be waived over what is a crucial European and domestic rugby period," said Rob Andrew, the RFU's professional rugby director.

The 32-strong elite squad will be announced on 11 January, along with the Saxons squad. With the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody and Steve Thompson no longer available, Simon Shaw having moved abroad and Andrew Sheridan and Richard Wigglesworth injured, its makeup will be different from the 30 who went to New Zealand.

"We have got to select players who have a future for England," said Lancaster. "We need to be clear in our selection and I want to make sure I do the job well. I have not thought about what happens after the Six Nations: there is enough going on for me in terms of preparation.

"I want to do things a little differently and ensure the England players are reminded of the reasons why it is a privilege to play for their country. I want them to reconnect with the public and with the media and for that reason I want to take our Six Nations camps away from Pennyhill Park. I want training to have a grassroots feel to it."

Powered by article was written by Paul Rees, for The Guardian on Wednesday 21st December 2011 19.57 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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