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Robinson-The Full story

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    Robinson-The Full story

    The full story

    By Paul Ackford, Sunday Telegraph

    The long goodbye

    Andy Robinson's protracted departure began on Sunday with a series of phone calls from Rob Andrew and John Spencer, chairman of Club England. Both men effectively told Robinson that his time was up following England's 25-14 defeat by South Africa and that he should step down. Robinson's initial reaction was to fight. He remained convinced in his ability to turn England around and argued passionately that he retained the confidence of his squad and his assistant coaches despite presiding over a run of 13 defeats in 22 matches since October 2004. Andrew was the man who pulled the trigger. He told Robinson the debate had moved on and that the decision-makers in the RFU would not back him in his struggle to continue. Andrew advised Robinson to think carefully how he wanted to handle the situation.

    Francis Baron and Andy Robinson
    Severance: Francis Baron and Andy Robinson in October

    By Monday morning Robinson had accepted privately that he had to go and contacted Francis Baron by telephone. He told Baron he wished to resign and asked whether the RFU would honour his contract worth £235,000 a year. Baron, who had worked with Robinson for six years and wanted to make the matter as painless and as private as possible for Robinson and his family, gave him the assurances he required. Robinson then asked Baron to e-mail the precise details of his severance terms which Baron did.

    The next day and a half was taken up with legal wrangling. Robinson's lawyers contacted the RFU late on Monday evening and said they needed the terms of his pay-off in writing before they would let their client resign formally. RFU lawyers burnt the midnight oil on Monday to provide the document and both sets of lawyers got together throughout Tuesday morning to haggle over individual clauses.

    On Tuesday afternoon Baron and Robinson met face to face to sign off the severance package. In a two-hour meeting the two men agreed the headline pay-off figure of £235,000 and sorted out pension contributions, what to do with Robinson's RFU car, tax implications and the like. It took the lawyers until 7pm on Tuesday to endorse the deal, too late for a media announcement, but by then Robinson was already history. His last involvement with the RFU was a handshake with Baron as their summit concluded. He was effectively unemployed.

    Inquests continued within RFU circles as to why Robinson was unable to galvanise his team after a wide-ranging internal review in the spring had presented him with a second chance. One senior figure reported that when he watched England train he was amazed how immersed Robinson was in the session itself, almost acting as an extra player. It was not uncommon to see him taking part in defensive drills or in set moves. The contrast with Sir Clive Woodward who used to conduct training sessions from a television gantry during the World Cup was striking. Woodward, the general, versus Robinson, the foot soldier. Was that the reason for England's malaise?

    Another explanation for England's decline was that Robinson's manner inhibited his squad. Nicknamed 'The Growler', he was so intense in his behaviour, so obsessed with getting things right that it put huge psychological pressure on his players, especially the younger members of his squad. It is no coincidence that one of Andrew's objectives is to loosen up England training, to move away from the dogmatic, oppressive environment in which Robinson operated.

    Yet another damning indictment from someone who worked closely with England's last two head coaches centred on vibrancy. "Put it this way," the individual said. "If you walked into a pub and saw Woodward and Robinson at separate ends of the bar, what would you do? My guess is that you would seek out a drink with Woodward first and then


    Eng er lund are screwed. Seems a long long time ago now that they were thinking of leaving the six nations because they weren't getting enough competition.

    For the sake of the six nations, I hope they turn it around, but I firmly believe Andrews isn't the man for the job. Its a poisoned chalice whoever takes it, but personally I think Richards is probably the best out of a bad lot.
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      Woodward had it right in ST at weekend, future is with team England centrally contracting the top players and having full control over those for large parts of the year. The clubs should be compensated for this big time and they can get into a mutually beneficial arrangement e.g. club provides more intl. players then it receives more over the odds (more than what they're paying the players) compensation, this thenimplies they can afford more players & deepen their squads & do other things and so prosper on having their stars selected.

      They will need a graded system of club compensation for each level of player & commitment level i.e. full, A international, training squad, U-21, etc, and then they can renegotiate these rates every 2-3 years and the RFU can tie budgeting, sponsorship & other commercial realities of running the game into that.

      That's the guts of the solution- its just how long these parties take to reach it is the question. My guess is post WC 07 when England may be at their lowest ebb.
      Munster were great when they were Munster.

      alas they are just north munster now.......



        Are they that bad though? Surely a coach with a bit of cop on, combined with Ashton and Forde could make a big difference to them?



          They're in a bit of a trough, player wise. They have no real leaders and most of the really talented players who are in form in England at the moment are young lads who won't come through at the top level for a couple of years. By the2011RWC they should have a really decent side again, they're just going through a difficult transition.

          Having said that, for these young players to fulfil their potential, the RFU really needs to come to some agreement with the clubs andcentral contracts for the elite playersare the way to go IMO. The thing that makes me laughis that the people over here who oppose thisoften cite the example of cricket(!) where it hasn't really worked. They completely ignore the examples in their own sport where it has (NZ, Ireland, Aus etc.).

          At the end of the day, the clubs are only worried about their revenue. They won't mind losing their top players for half the season as long as they're generously compensated. As Daithi rightly points out, if the clubs are being well paid for producing internationals, they'll also be more likely to bring through young players.