England Rugby Union head coach Martin Johnson has stepped down from his role after three and a half years at the helm
His decision to step down comes after a disastrous World Cup campaign which featured a series of on and off the field controversies. He took charge of 38 games during his stint as head coach and won 55% percent of those, losing 16 and drawing one.
He led England to their first Six Nations for seven years in 2011 but after exiting the World Cup at the quarter final stage with a couple of less than impressive performances, Johnson’s future was thrown into doubt.
“I think it is in the best interests of both the England team and myself not to carry on,” said the 41-year-old.
“I have a choice at the moment. If I hadn’t made that decision someone may have made it for me.”
He won 84 caps as a player and won the 2003 World Cup but wasn’t as successful as a coach and was criticised for his decision to allow his players to go out on the town in New Zealand during the tournament and also defending captain Mike Tindall after the infamous incident in a Queensland bar.
“While we’ve had our most successful season with 10 wins from 13, we are disappointed with how we ended it with the World Cup. I think it’s the right decision at this time. It’s a thoughtful and considered opinion,” continued Johnson, who had no previous top-level coaching experience when appointed.
“Part of me regrets leaving the job in these circumstances. There is unfinished business and a feeling to put things right, but I won’t leave with any regrets.
“The cycles are from World Cup to World Cup and you have to decide whether you are prepared to jump in for four years and wholly commit yourself to that job and weigh it up. I’m not.”
Graham Henry and Nick Mallett, former coaches of New Zealand and Italy respectively, have been suggested as possible replacements for Johnson.
Northampton coach Jim Mallinder, who has overseen England stars Chris Ashton, Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes at Saints, has confirmed he would be interested in the role.
However, Jake White, who coached South Africa to World Cup success in 2007, has ruled himself out of the running.