Rugby World Cup 2011

Chilcott: Johnson has to go

Chilcott: Johnson has to go

FORMER ENGLAND prop Gareth Chilcott has called for manager Martin Johnson to resign following the side’s dismal Rugby World Cup campaign.

Chilcott, who played 14 tests for England between 1984 and 1989, has also criticised the team for its off-field behaviour during its time in New Zealand.

England was expected to at least make the semifinals of the RWC. However, it instead played poorly for much of the tournament, failing to reach any great heights during the pool stages, before being knocked out in the quarter-finals by France.

The Rugby Football Union is waiting for guidance from Johnson as to whether he wants to put his name forward to continue as England manager. His contract runs out on December 31.

But Chilcott reckons his time at the helm of England was over.

“Martin Johnson was a magnificent player, one of the best second-rowers the world has ever produced. He went from player to coach overnight, so it was always going to be a difficult task, and one he's fell a bit short with,” he says.

“Discipline fell apart. People say everyone respects Martin Johnson. Well, obviously his players didn't or they wouldn't have acted that way, so I think his days are numbered.

“It's just a matter of when.”

England dominated the headlines during the tournament for all the wrong reasons

Centre Mike Tindall was captured on CCTV in a Queenstown nightspot embracing ex-girlfriend Jessica Palmer during downtime with teammates.

Back-rower James Haskell, hooker Dylan Hartley and wing Chris Ashton were then reprimanded after a female member of staff in their Dunedin hotel complained of being teased with lewd comments.

Centre Manu Tuilagi, who was also fined by the International Rugby Board for wearing an unapproved mouthguard carrying the name of a sponsor, was arrested after jumping into the Auckland Harbour following his side’s 19-12 loss to France.

“The way they behaved on and off the field is not a professional sportsman standard. As an old England has-been that played for England I think it's just a disgrace,” says Chilcott.

“For six weeks all they needed to do was be professional, concentrate and if you lose you lose, but to lose when all that's been going on in the background, I think it's unacceptable.”

As for tonight’s RWC final between the All Blacks and France, he was tipping New Zealand to win its second Webb Ellis Cup.

“I played against France many times and they are very unpredictable.

“I think the only hope they've got is to frustrate New Zealand for the first half hour and maybe get a couple points up and then that overconfidence that the Kiwis have got might begin to unravel and make it a contest, because if New Zealand score first I think it could go off and become a cricket score really.

“Whatever happens, New Zealand deserves to win this World Cup and will probably come out on top at the end of the day.”

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