So, the World Cup is over and the biggest
issue back on this isle, whether we like it or not, is the turmoil in the RFU.
Before the two-month rugby bonanza the RFU
was in a complete mess without a permanent chairman, without a permanent chief
executive and still searching for their first performance director.
All tha was temporarily forgotten while the
spotlight was on the tournament in New Zealand, but fast forward a few weeks
and nothing has changed at Twickenham.
Actually, that's not quite true. Things
have got slightly worse because, after England's farcical tournament both on
and off the field, the RFU look set to have to appoint a new coach as well.
So that is a chairman, a chief executive, a
performance director and a coach on the vacancy list.
Now, Oval Talk would want a chairman, chief
executive and performance director in place before deciding whether to appoint
a new coach or not. But it would seem,
when the RFU management board meet later this week, the priority will be to resolve
the coach issue.
Martin Johnson's contract comes to an end
in December, and by the time the board meet he will probably will have
indicated whether he wants to stay on or not.
Whatever Johnson's decision, however, the
RFU will be reluctant to offer a long-term contract to any coach until they
have their first choice for the performance director role in place.
That man is, of course, Sir Clive Woodward,
who will not be available for the role until his contract with the British
Olympic Association comes to an end after next year's London Olympics.
Woodward will be given almost total freedom
from the RFU to appoint the coaching team and put the infrastructure in place
to make England a major force once again.
And OT understands in the meantime, with
Johnson likely to leave, the RFU want to appoint former Italy and Japan coach
John Kirwan on a temporary basis.
A source close to Kirwan has said: "The
RFU have spoken to John and he told them he is unemployed and would be interested
in helping them out if needed."
So Kirwan would come in as the interim
coach for the Six Nations and the summer tour to South Africa. The New
Zealander, who stepped down as Japan's
coach after their exit from the World Cup, looks like the sensible solution to
the RFU's self-inflicted problem of not wanting to pick their man until Woodward
is on board.
There's only one problem. For the next 12
months England will be in a sort of limbo until Woodward comes in and drives
them forward. That then only gives the national team, effectively starting from
scratch, three years to prepare for the next World Cup which is not long enough
for England as hosts to mount a serious challenge.
The RFU are in a fine mess, which they are
trying to sort out; but until the hierarchy of the union is resolved they will
be going round and round a futile and vicious circle.