Smith quits England rugby team role after critical report

Smith quits England rugby team role after critical report

LONDON - Agence France-Presse

Brian Smith stepped down as England attack coach yesterday, just a day after highly critical remarks about his performance at the World Cup were leaked to The Times newspaper.

England’s campaign was dominated by off-field scandals and on-field failings, before the team made an ignominious exit in a quarter-final defeat by France, ultimately leading to manager Martin Johnson’s resignation last week.

Former Australia and Ireland international Smith, previously coach of English Premiership side London Irish, was slated in a report by the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), compiled on the basis of anonymous interviews with England’s World Cup squad.

“To see an international coach (Smith) being described as indecisive, out of his depth, difficult to talk to, ‘simply not good enough’ is so damning it is beyond belief,” said the report.

One player accused Smith of copying moves from rugby minnows Romania.

“When you start copying Romanian moves, you know you are in trouble,” the unnamed player said.

However, Smith -- whose contract was due to expire next month -- defended his record in the three and a half years since his appointment in July 2008.

“I feel that England have made great strides in the last three years and although the World Cup was a massive disappointment, we have won 10 out of the last 13 games, including beating Australia back-to-back and winning the Six Nations (earlier this year) for the first time since 2003,” Smith said.

“Johnson appointed me and gave me the opportunity, and that’s something I will be forever grateful for,” added Smith. “He has been fantastic to work for and has always given 100 percent and maintained the utmost integrity. Working with the other coaches has also been a positive experience and I wish them all well.”

Johnson said: “Brian has brought a huge amount of commitment to the job. I want to thank him for what he has done for the team.”