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Rugby Union: RFU act to rescue England from threat of World Cup 'failure'.

Chief executive Francis Baron insisted the Rugby Football Union had to make radical changes to England's management structure or next year's World Cup defence would end in "unacceptable" failure.

The RFU board was presented with 28 separate recommendations for change following an exhaustive post-RBS Six Nations Championship review and passed every one of them.

Andy Robinson has been retained as head coach but with revised responsibilities. He will now report directly to a director of elite rugby who, in a major new step, will also have a say in selection matters. Sir Clive Woodward's name would almost certainly feature on any list of candidates.

Robinson's trusted assistants Phil Larder, Dave Alred and Joe Lydon were not so fortunate. Larder, a defence coach, and kicking specialist Alred both leave the RFU altogether while Lydon has been offered a role at the academy.

The trio will be replaced by full-time attack, defence and forwards coaches who the RFU hope to have in place "comfortably before the tour of Australia" in June.

It is a comprehensive shake-up of a management structure the review revealed had become top-heavy and a coaching team that, Robinson apart, had lost the confidence of the players.

Changes had to be made and Baron explained: "The objectives of the review are simple. We want to create a new vibrant culture in the England team structure.

"We want the overall structure to be leaner and meaner, the whole structure has got to be hungry for success.

"Doing nothing was not an option. You just have to look at the results. Since the World Cup we have played 25, we have won 12 but lost 13. Against the major countries we have played 19 matches, won six and lost 13.

"In the Six Nations since the World Cup the trend has been getting worse not better. In the last two years we have finished fourth.

"We want to create the best chance for England to perform well in the Rugby World Cup next year.

"If we don't make the changes we have done we are looking at a quarter-final exit at best. That would be very serious and wholly unacceptable.

"We want to go there and do our darnedest to defend the trophy. We have a mountain to climb but we have started climbing it."

Gareth Jenkins has been appointed as Wales' new coach - two years after he was overlooked for the post.

Fans' favourite Jenkins was announced as the successful candidate following a meeting of Welsh Rugby Union directors in Cardiff.

Llanelli Scarlets rugby director Jenkins has beaten off competition from the likes of Leeds boss Phil Davies to replace 2005 Grand Slam-winning supremo Mike Ruddock.

Jenkins was expected to replace New Zealander Steve Hansen as Wales head coach two years ago, but Ruddock landed the role even though he did not lodge a formal application.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 28, 2006
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