Mon, Nov 13, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Robinson in peril after defeat to Pumas

AFP , LONDON

England head coach Andy Robinson, right, congratulates Argentina captain and scrum-half Agustin Pichot after the Investec Challenge international rugby union Test match at Twickenham, London, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

British newspapers made miserable reading for England coach Andy Robinson yesterday, with many agreed his job is under threat or even untenable after the world champions' 25-18 defeat at home to Argentina.

"World Chumps," lamented the Sunday Times, reflecting on the "humiliating" defeat to the Pumas and Robinson's insistence that he will still be in charge for the two forthcoming fixtures against South Africa.

But with the former Bath and England flanker having presided over seven straight defeats -- England's worst run since 1971-1972 -- the newspaper said he may not survive beyond that.

"He may well escape until the end of the autumn series but it seems impossible for him to stay after that," it suggested, raising the possibility that England may not reach the World Cup knockout stages in France next year.

"England still have five matches in the RBS Six Nations and three World Cup warm-up games in which a new head coach can find his feet," the paper said.

The Sunday Telegraph followed a similar tack, headlining the front page of its sports section "England in crisis," with a pensive-looking Robinson looking at his watch -- presumably praying for the final whistle.

Inside, former England lock-turned-journalist Paul Ackford pulled no punches.

"This was simply unacceptable," he said. "It's difficult to know where to begin the catalogue of shame."

"There was no leadership, no pace on the game for the first hour ... in fact there was not one area where England could have been said to have performed tolerably well," he wrote.

On the head coach, Ackford added: "Robinson is now damaged goods and there is no way he can remain at the helm of this operation ... Sure, he was a positive influence on England's journey to World Cup glory [as assistant to then coach Clive Woodward] three long years ago, but the magic has left him."

"He has been unable to fashion a new generation of players and there are real concerns about his ability to select and galvanise a side ... he must know that he has no credibility left within this England set-up," he wrote.

Former England utility player Mike Catt -- a member of England's 2003 World Cup winning side -- adopted a more sympathetic tone, backing Robinson as a man who "does not drop the ball, miss the pass or get it wrong tactically during a game."

"Players will take criticism, which is entirely justified. You do not have to tell an international he has had a bad game. He knows it," he wrote.

"Now is the time to show the mental strength of the England squad, fronting up to individual responsibilities on the pitch and pulling together off the field, battling your way out of a losing environment," Catt wrote.

Leicester and England flanker Lewis Moody, in the team on Saturday, adopted a similar approach in the Mail on Sunday, urging: "Don't blame Robinson for our mistakes."

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