Thursday

Zen 1041: England's failure was down to the fact that Martin Johnson was basically a big girl's blouse

The slew of leaked reports following England's shambolic World Cup campaign makes entertaining, but very ugly reading. Neither the Rugby Players’ Association, the Rugby Football Union or Premiership Rugby offer the current set-up much in the way of a get-out or redemption. It was a cock-up, pure and simple.

Between the venal, boozy and lazy senior players and the coterie of pampered, golf-obsessed, tactically inept coaches, only two figures come out of this dung-spattered fiasco not trying to whittle cow shit out of their ears. One of them is Graham Rowntree, the scrummage coach, who is apparently a Proper Fucking Legend and conducted himself impeccably throughout.

The other - bizarrely - is Martin Johnson, who the players seem particularly reluctant to implicate. But then that, right there, is the essence of the entire problem: misplaced loyalty.

As a player, Johnno laid waste to all comers and hoisted the Webb Ellis Trophy in possibly the best final ever, and on Australian turf to boot. Proper Fucking Legends don't come much more Proper than that. Get ye gone hence anyone who dare besmirch or degrade Johnno the Player. He is immaculate and untouchable.

But as a manager, he inherited a national set up where the coaches were all his ex-Leicester mates and the senior players were all his muckers from the England glory days. Confronted with this gaggle of pleading, doe-eyed, familiar faces blinking myopically through the stardust at him, he took one look around the room and, frankly, bottled it.

As the gaffer, he should have been looking at every facet of the England machine and engineering it to deliver the one and only thing that matters: glory. His sole goal in life should have been to hone a collection of 20-plus titanium-skinned killing machines with the express intention of stuffing Graham Henry's head so far up his arse on Final Day that it popped out the top again, with Johnno applying the Dirty Sanchez as a coup de grace.

Whichever way you look at it, he didn't come close. He clearly and emphatically lacked the heavyweight spuds required to look trusted colleagues in the eye and say: "Sorry mate, it's not personal, it's business" just prior to putting a metaphorical cap in his ass. Sadly, Johnno was always more Donald Duck than Don Corleone. More Good Samaritan than Goodfella. More Swiss Tony than Tony Montana. You get the picture.

In summary, England failed because Johnson was too much of a sissy girl to do the job he was paid to do. Everything else is secondary.

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