Baron is ‘not going anywhere’

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Francis Baron has claimed Andy Robinson made the decision himself to step down as England head coach.

Robinson resigned on Wednesday after three days of talks with Baron and other top brass at the RFU, including director of elite rugby Rob Andrew.

The 42-year-old released a statement suggesting he was reluctant to go, despite the world champions enduring a run of eight defeats in nine matches, culminating in Saturday’s Twickenham humbling at the hands of under-strength South Africa.

But Baron, who is himself facing calls to quit, said Robinson had drawn down his own curtain.

“Andy is a straight-talking guy and I think he came to that conclusion himself after the disappointing result last Saturday,” he said.

“Rob spoke to me on Sunday and said that’s the way Andy was thinking and obviously we needed a couple of days to sort the bits and pieces out.

“Andy came to his own conclusions.”

Baron admitted that Robinson had “wanted to fight it through” until the World Cup.

But he added: “He’s made it clear in the statement that he put out that, having consulted colleagues and friends, he came to the right conclusion.”

Baron believes Robinson had to take ultimate responsibility for England’s recent slide.

He said: “At the end of the day the England head coach, as Andy will say, has to hold his hands up if the results don’t go his way.

“The plaudits you get when England do well, they rightly fall on the coach.

“Equally, when they don’t go well, he has to accept responsibility.”

Baron rejected any notion he would resign, saying: “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to make sure that we get back on track.

“I know what we’ve got to do and we’re going to get England back to being the number one side in the world again.”

He also denied meddling in the selection process regarding England coaches, saying: “There are just some misconceptions flying around. Club England are the body which is responsible for identifying England coaches.”

Baron admitted his job now was to put the structure in place to enable Robinson’s successor to get England back on track and is confident of achieving that aim.

He said: “The system has been creaking for some time. I think everybody in the professional game knows that.

“The basic issue we’ve got is that the structure of the professional game in England was great for the early days of professionalism but things have just moved on.

“The structure we’ve got now, we’re trying to force the proverbial quart into the pint pot.

“In the RFU, we’ve had a project group looking re-structuring the top end of the game. They’re well advanced in their work and they’ll be publishing ideas, hopefully in the new year, about how we can move forward.

“We’ve got some very constructive discussions going with senior club owners on this so there are solutions in sight.”

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