Martin Johnson Quits As England Coach

Media relations between England rugby and the press have always been on reasonably good terms.

After 3 and half years as England manager and leading England to their first Six Nations title in 7 years, it was announced this week that Martin Johnson has resigned. 6 weeks before his contract was due to expire.

Arguably, Johnson's decision to step down as England manager is partly due to England's poor performance in this year's World Cup but perhaps more importantly because of the media fiasco that surrounded the England team's social activities.

Details of what the England rugby players were getting up to off the pitch engulfed the back pages of the newspapers creating a nightmare scenario for England Rugby's PR and communications team. The fallout of which led to a press conference that dealt solely with England players' social activities rather than the job they were there to do, play rugby.

Media relations between England rugby and the press have always been on reasonably good terms. Players such as Lewis Moody have always been happy to answer questions from the press and have more than likely received media training from their sports PR teams on the best way to handle interviews and press conferences. Considering this, it can be assumed that the whole of the England team were briefed by their PR consultants before flying out to New Zealand on the 'right' kind of behaviour. Johnson is certainly fully aware of the lengths the media will go to, to get a good story (he was awarded the England captaincy in 1999 after Lawrence Dallaglio was exposed by the News of the World) and should have reinforced the notion that journalists would take any opportunity to print a negative story.

Unwinding after a match is by no means frowned upon and Johnson vigorously defended Tindall after the Queenstown night out incident. But when further details of that night emerged causing a snowball effect in the press, with stories emerging left, right and centre, concerning rash incidents involving England players. Johnson has been left with no choice but to feel disappointed by his players.

England's behaviour at this year's World Cup included incidents involving Mike Tindall, who has been fined £25,000 and thrown out of the England squad; Chris Ashton and James Haskell who were each fined £5,000 for making lewd comments towards a member of hotel staff; and Manu Tuilagi was fined for jumping off a ferry into Auckland harbour.

The RFU have had a considerable crisis management task on their hands for the last 2 months and it seems that they now have the task of rebuilding England rugby's reputation back to its glory days. The RFU have had to take a long, hard look at English rugby and make some difficult but arguably necessary decisions. And by the looks of things they're going to start by wiping the management and coaching slate clean.

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Categories: Society

Tags: Crisis Management, online pr, sports pr


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Katie Matthews
Press Contact, PHA Media