England Players want Martin Johnson to stay on

England’s Rugby players have urged manager Martin Johnson to remain in charge of the England Team even though they exited the Rugby World Cup at the Quarter final stage.


Johnson, whose contract is up for renewal in December, made no decision about his immediate future after England lost 19-12 to a revived France side in the quarter-finals on Saturday.


The man who captained England to the 2003 World Cup and aimed to be the first player to return to the winners’ rostrum as a successful coach, said his future was not a matter for discussion when “emotions are still raw”.


Younger members of the squad want Johnson to take the team through to the 2015 World Cup in England just as former coach Clive Woodward, who guided the side to glory in 2003, was given another shot at winning the Webb Ellis Trophy after presiding over the quarter-final defeat by the Springboks four years earlier.


“Without a shadow of a doubt,” said 22-year-old scrum-half Ben Youngs when asked if Johnson should stay in post. “I’ve got nothing but respect for ‘Jonno’.”


Full-back Ben Foden agreed.


“Do I want Martin Johnson to stay? Of course. You can’t really fault ‘Jonno’s’ enthusiasm and what he’s trying to achieve.”


England’s director of rugby operations, Rob Andrew, who will lead a review of the performance, refrained from openly endorsing Johnson.


But Andrew said the situation was different to 2007 when Brian Ashton was sacked as England coach following the World Cup final loss to South Africa.


“The key thing from my point of view is we take the next four to six weeks with Martin to review what went on,” Andrew, sitting beside Johnson at a press conference, said Sunday.


“Obviously, Martin will reflect on why we’ve gone out in the quarter-final of a World Cup,” former England fly-half Andrew added.


“We now have to take stock and not over-react one way or the other.”


The damage was done for England in the first half hour when France piled on 16 unanswered points and Johnson saw issues across the board, particularly with an inability to handle the high ball and weak defence.


There were also signs of problems in the pool matches when England twice had to come from behind to beat Argentina and then Scotland.


“We made it tough on ourselves. It was frustrating at times we didn’t get the chance to put games away but that’s World Cups, it’s all about pressure,” Johnson said, adding it was too soon to talk about his future.


“The emotions are still very raw for everyone so you need to step away from it.”


Johnson insisted off-field incidents involving Mike Tindall’s nightlife and other players harassing a female hotel worker had no impact on what happened against France.


“We dealt with it early on in the campaign and got on with it. So there was no lingering effect.”


“But ultimately (the tournament) ends in one of two ways — you’re either bitterly disappointed or you’ve won it.”


For senior members of the England team including Jonny Wilkinson and Tindall, who played with former lock Johnson in the triumphant 2003 side, as well as secnd row Simon Shaw and captain Lewis Moody, their World Cup days are likely over.


But Johnson believes the best days are ahead for the younger players he has nurtured and they’d be better for the bitter experience of losing to France.


“Their effort was fantastic, but we left ourselves with far too much to do.


“It’s brutal. That’s what World Cups are. One team goes home with a smile, for everyone else it ends in tears.”

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