Former captain Will Carling has blasted the England players for “insulting” the jersey and blamed the Rugby Football Union for creating the chaos that turned the squad’s Rugby World Cup campaign into a debacle.
Carling’s broadside was delivered as the RFU officially launched the 2015 Rugby World Cup which England will host, against the backdrop of the off-the-field incidents involving players in New Zealand and the on-going warfare between factions within the biggest Union in the sport.
“The way the players behaved down here was an insult to the England shirt and the problems start from the very top of the RFU and go right down to the World Cup squad,” said Carling. “Vacant positions within the RFU hierarchy and votes of no confidence means the whole thing is a mess and the whole culture of the organisation needs to be changed.
“You have to ask the people involved in all of the problems are they doing the job for the good of English rugby or for my own ego and powerbase?
If it’s the latter then they should move on. If the people at the top are doing it for the wrong reasons how do we expect players to do the right thing.”
England crashed out of the tournament in the quarter-finals and Carling believes the defeat to France could be Martin Johnson’s last match as team manager.
“I don’t know if Johnno will put his name in the hat again because he will be hard pushed to say the coaching team should stay and he is loyal man,” said Carling, who is a Heineken Ambassador.
“Will he hang around if the coaches go? He was all about winning as a player and if you look at the three and a half years in his role as team manager, have England progressed?
No, I don’t think they have.
“I just think the value system has been lost with England. I am not sure why but I hope whoever is the new coaching team sits back down with the players and that they grow up and understand the honour of putting on that shirt.
“There is a naivety to give the media those stories and while I didn’t see what was wrong with going to a bar for a few beers I have no issue with that – however some of the other stuff was stupid. You cannot defend that behaviour and while the majority weren’t involved having four or five doing that kind of thing is unacceptable.
“Jumping in to the harbour at the end of a World Cup as Manu Tuilagi did is just plain stupid. If you are here on a private holiday fine, when you are part of Cup campaign that’s been blighted by bad press then you just can’t believe it. Those involved in the incidents let their fellow players down, Martin Johnson and the country. “
The RFU have set stiff targets in 2015 with the aim of selling 2.8 million tickets for the 48 matches – an average attendance of 58,000 – to help generate the guarantee $120 million to the International Rugby Board for hosting rights. Former captain Lawrence Dallaglio and fellow 2003 Cup winner Will Greenwood fronted the launch in Auckland.