HARLEQUINS BOSS CONOR O’Shea has become the latest coach to rule himself out of succeeding Martin Johnson.
The England chalice became even more poisoned on Sunday when World Cup-winning manager Clive Woodward described the RFU as a “laughing stock” and insisted that elite rugby director Rob Andrew doesn’t have the skills to make the association’s next appointment.
“All the people who appointed Johnson – a man who had never coached anyone at any level – are still in place,” he wrote in the Sunday Times (print edition).
“There is nobody who understands elite performance and rugby at the very top. Equally disturbing, the same people are going to appoint the next coach.”
Woodward listed the likes of Northampton’s Jim Mallinder, Richard Cockerill, Toby Booth, O’Shea, Neil Back and former Ulster coach Mark McCall as potential candidates, but that group has been decreasing in size over recent days as one man after another ruled themselves out of the running.
O’Shea’s side are top of the Premiership and unbeaten this season but when he asked about England’s top coaching job, the former Irish international made his position very clear.
“My job is at Quins, full stop,” he told The Guardian. “Players like Chris Robshaw and George Robson have committed to 2015, and I want to commit to them.”
He added: “We feel we are at the start of a journey, not even midway through it.
“I will get a huge amount of pleasure if we are successful and we see a lot of guys go on to represent England, (but) I want to be at Harlequins, and I am going to be at Harlequins.”
One man willing to talk to the RFU is former Australia boss Eddie Jones. He told The Daily Telegraph, he would be “crazy” not to be interested in the job, adding the magic words every rose-wearing fan likes to hear.
“England have a fantastic domestic competition and playing resources, so of course they have the potential to win a World Cup,” he said. “In four years I would be confident of assembling a team that would regularly be a top-three side.”
Leicester’s Richard Cockerill told reporters (see the Daily Telegraph) that he is “not ready” for the job, while former Gloucester coach Dean Ryan said he would “need a lot of convincing” to take up any role with the RFU, adding to The Guardian that his talents were “not right for the top job”.