Johnson not willing to blame squad as he resigns

Martin Johnson refused to say whether he felt his players had let him down after announcing his resignation as England team manager yesterday.

Johnson confirmed he would not renew his contract, which runs out at the end of the year, at a press conference at Twickenham. It was a widely-anticipated decision after a disappointing World Cup campaign in which England were eliminated at the quarter-final stage – to fall below their stated semi-final objective – while off-field controversies further undermined Johnson during the tournament in New Zealand.

A drunken night out in Queenstown, which resulted in Mike Tindall being fined £25,000 by the RFU earlier this week, headed a number of indiscretions that Johnson admitted he could have done without.

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But despite that, the former World Cup-winning captain refused to blame his players for his exit after three-and-a-half years at the helm.

“The off-field stuff didn’t help,” said Johnson. “It portrays the team in a bad light and not in an accurate light. But we gave people the opportunity to report things as they did. I don’t know about being let down. Of course it didn’t help, we didn’t want that reputation.

“I warned the players if they open the door slightly it will get fully opened. They did that. How that affected performances on field no one can answer.”

RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew, who joined Johnson at yesterday’s press conference, denied he would follow him out the exit door.

“No I’m absolutely not considering resigning,” he said. “In terms of the department and the structure of the professional game – that’s my role in this. My job is to run the department, not just the playing side of things.”