Andrew’s book highlights the loss of Johnson
Rob Andrew’s book is a lot livelier than we had any right to expect from a mandarin who was always circumspect and political in his Rugby Football Union roles.
The criticism of Stuart Lancaster for being obsessed with conduct in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup chimes with what many of us felt at the time. The need to win in a home World Cup had become sublimated somewhat by the quest to create solid citizens who understood the honour of playing for England.
But Andrew’s portrayal of the 2011 World Cup campaign as the tour of shame tells you why Lancaster acted as he did. He felt England had become a vehicle for personal advancement. A vain generation were undermining national service. Eddie Jones has continued that war by other means. So there is a disconnect in Andrew’s depiction of 2011 and his critique of Lancaster in 2015.
The most poignant aspect is that the betrayal of Martin Johnson by some members of the 2011 England squad ended up driving him away from front-line coaching and management. That remains a sad loss.