Baron: Robinson is ‘fireproof’

Rugby Football Union chief Francis Baron insists Andy Robinson's position as England head coach is "fireproof" through to the 2007 World Cup. [more]

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Rugby Football Union chief Francis Baron insists Andy Robinson’s position as England head coach is "fireproof" through to the 2007 World Cup.

Baron does expect changes to be made to the coaching team before England set about defending the Webb Ellis Cup, but he stressed Robinson is the man to lead the campaign.

Baron said: "We are not a soccer club where a guy’s job is on the line because a couple of results go wrong.

"Andy Robinson is contracted through to the next World Cup. He is a fantastic bloke, a great manager, a great coach and it is down to him to take us on from the Sir Clive Woodward era.

"That is what Andy will do and we will work closely with Andy to make sure he has all the support he needs."

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Robinson has not been in the job a year yet but over the next 12 months Baron expects the England set-up will begin to take on a new shape.

There have been suggestions that the time has come to replace a number of the back-room staff originally appointed by Woodward.

The likes of Phil Larder and Dave Alred were instrumental in building the World Cup-winning side, but the disappointing British & Irish Lions tour highlighted how rugby has moved on since then.

And as England strive to become the first nation ever to retain the rugby World Cup, Baron indicated Robinson is prepared to make the necessary changes.

"Over the next year you will see his coaching team evolve into the Andy Robinson team and the Andy Robinson way of doing things," said Baron.

"Andy has our total support. The nature of being a coach is that there are ups and downs. But we have always planned long term and backed our people long term.

"For England this is a very important season. Nobody in the RFU is happy with our current position, ranking number six in the word and none of us believe our performances and results last year are of a level England should attain and our supporters deserve.

"We are all very much focused now on delivering improved performances.

"We have two years until the World Cup. That improved performance comes from me down. We all have to accept our responsibility."

The RFU have published a new strategic plan, packed with goals and objectives for each part of the organisation.

Top of the list in the elite rugby section is retaining the World Cup in 2007 but it also demands four Six Nations triumphs and two Grand Slams between 2006 and 2013.

Baron rejected suggestions that ambitions such as these put too much pressure on the players and management.

He said: "This is the way we try to focus everybody on what we want to achieve.

"Andy and his team are very focused. Andy is more aggressive over the results he is gong to achieve than is set out in the plan.

"I believe we have got a great coaching team, a great bunch of players that have total support from the RFU and if we don’t hit all the goals in the plan, we don’t hit them. But we will give it our best shot."

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