Martin Johnson resigns. Another example of weak sporting governance?

November 17, 2011

Martin Johnson resigned as a scapegoat for England’s recent World Cup performances both on and off the field. But the Governance of the English Rugby Union leaves much to be desired

It is partly the culture within Rugby Union that appointments are made with more attention paid to heroic on-field exploits than to any job description of a manager or head coach. This partly explains the appointment of the Captain of England’s only successful World Cup campaign

At the time of his arrival as head coach, [April 2008] the English Press were largely enthusiastic about the appointment. The main criticism was that the incumbent, Brian Ashton, had been fired in unseemly haste to pave the way for Johnson.

An ill-judged appointment?

In a LWD post I was less convinced, noting that the appointment might be ill-judged. Johnson had no coaching experience, a fact glossed over in the reports of his appointment.

Charisma

Martin Johnson was believed to bring the charisma and leadership on the field to a completely different type of leadership job as England manager.
Distributed leadership.

The Board wanted Clive Woodward back

It became clear that the Rugby authorities recognised the need for distributed leadership, hankering after Johnson’s own World Cup manager Clive Woodward. However, Woodwood had never been able to negotiate adequate powers to make he post a success, and remains a leader in waiting.

Rob Andrews

The chief executive role is held by Rob Andrews. Johnson departed with considerable dignity. Sharing a platform when Johnson announced his retirement, Andrews rejected enquiries whether he too should resign. Johnson departed with considerable dignity. Andrews has come under criticism for his role and his unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for shortcomings.


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