England are banking on Martin Johnson's winning record to make up for his lack
of a coaching record [GALLO/GETTY]
 

Martin Johnson was appointed England team manager Wednesday, with Brian Ashton losing the job of head coach.

In a major shake-up of the national team hierarchy, England's Rugby Football Union said Johnson will be in charge from July 1, even though the former England captain has no coaching experience.

"He will bring a new and fresh approach to team development and preparation in his own inimitable style," RFU elite director of rugby Rob Andrew said.

"I would also like to thank Brian for the job he has done in difficult circumstances. He is an outstanding coach and deserves enormous credit for leading England to a second successive rugby World Cup final last year and securing the runners-up position in this year's Six Nations."

Johnson, who led England to the 2003 World Cup title as a player, will be in charge of appointing the coaching and management staff and the player selection process. He will report to Andrew.

"It is a great honor to be offered this position," Johnson said.

"I am passionate about the England team and delivering success for it."

The 2.03 metre Johnson made 84 appearances for England, 39 of them as captain.

Can Martin Johnson bring the Rugby World Cup
back to England? [GALLO/GETTY]
Ashton axed

Ashton was fired from England's senior team and offered the position of national academy head coach instead.

He had been reappointed on an indefinite contract in December after England unexpectedly reached the final of last year's World Cup, losing to South Africa.

However, the team then had a mixed Six Nations campaign, with losses to Wales and Scotland and a disappointing game against Italy before it beat Ireland for the first time since 2003.

"Whilst Brian is naturally disappointed that he will not have a role in the new senior structure, I believe the new post that we have offered him as head coach of the national academy is ideally suited to his special talents and expertise,'' Andrew said.

Ashton was England's attack coach before he replaced Andy Robinson in late 2006, after the team lost eight of nine games and dropped to seventh in the world rankings.

The RFU said Johnson had kept John Wells as forwards coach and Mike Ford as the defense coach. Another coach will also be appointed.

Johnson, whose wife is expecting their second child, agreed to a contract through to the end of 2011.

Andrew to bridge gap

Andrew will take up the role of England's team manager for England's match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on June 1 and the two-test series in New Zealand.

England plays in Auckland on June 14 and Christchurch on June 21.

Andrew will be helped by Wells, Ford, Graham Rowntree and Jon Callard, with input from Johnson.

"I will be working closely with Rob and the England coaching team on selection for the Barbarians match and the New Zealand tour, as well as selecting the first senior elite player squad of 32," Johnson said.

Source: Agencies