Probyn puts Richards forward

Former England prop Jeff Probyn has called for Dean Richards to succeed Andy Robinson - but in the capacity of team manager. [more]

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Former England prop Jeff Probyn has called for Dean Richards to succeed Andy Robinson – but in the capacity of team manager.

Martin Johnson, Richard Hill, Nick Mallett, Eddie Jones, Warren Gatland and Richards are contenders to replace Robinson, whose reign as head coach finally ended yesterday.

Probyn has urged the Rugby Football Union to appoint an Englishman with Richards – his one-time international team-mate and current Harlequins director of rugby – the outstanding candidate.

And Probyn, who won 37 caps, insists Richards must be appointed in a managerial capacity as the title of ‘head coach’ has become obsolete.

"England need a manager, not a head coach. The argument is what is a head coach? It was a title invented by Sir Clive Woodward who never really coached anyone," Probyn said.

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"His role was more similar to that of the old England team manager. Woodward was originally appointed as a coach but he then adopted the manager’s role and made Andy Robinson coach.

"Dean Richards should be appointed England manager. I hope it goes to an Englishman.

"There are some outstanding candidates from abroad such as Nick Mallett and Warren Gatland, but we have the people in this country to do the job.

"For the England team you want the best man for the job and that’s Dean Richards. He has a proven track record of working with John Wells (England forwards coach).

"They won two Heineken Cups and four successive Premiership titles together at Leicester. Dean has a strong vision of where he would like to take the team.

"He’s respected by all the players, all of the management and clubs and wants what’s best for England.

"In the end that’s what cost him his job with Leicester because he sacrificed the club’s need for England’s in preparation for the 2003 World Cup."

Probyn, a past member of Club England, believes recruiting England’s World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson is not a viable option at this stage.

"Johnno has poured cold water on the idea of him becoming involved because he has no experience of management or coaching," he said.

"If he had spent the last two years coaching or being in charge of Leicester then he would have been the obvious candidate.

"Right now he could only be appointed as a figurehead and that’s not what England need."

Robinson’s position as head coach became untenable after England suffered three defeats from their four autumn Tests and Probyn felt he should not have replaced Woodward in the first place.

"Andy’s departure is a very sad issue because he’s a great coach and has always been regarded as such," he said.

"He’s a great number two, not a number one. People who know Andy knew it would be a mistake making him head coach.

"I wrote an article when Andy was first appointed coach that he was our secret weapon for the simple reason he was in the background.

"Clive took all the headlines but Andy did all the coaching. That suited Andy. Putting him in the glare of publicity destroyed what he was good at."

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