Andy Robinson lost his job as head coach of the England rugby union team yesterday after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced he was standing down with immediate effect.
During his two years in charge since succeeding Sir Clive Woodward, Robinson saw England win just nine out of 22 Tests with 13 defeats -- including a record-equalling run of seven losses completed earlier this month.
After his last match in charge, a 25-14 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, England's third in four matches this month, Robinson vowed he would not "walk away" from his post.
But in a statement yesterday the 42-year-old former England flanker said: "Following last Saturday's match versus South Africa my position remained that I was confident that I would coach the England team through to a successful World Cup in 2007, notwithstanding the setbacks that we have had through the autumn.
"It is my understanding that I had, and still have, the support of the England players and the England management team.
"However, in the last 48 hours, I have been advised by senior colleagues that those who have governance over me -- the RFU Management Board -- do not, and will not, continue to support me as England Head Coach.
"Therefore, it is with regret that I have agreed a parting of the ways with the RFU and I will cease to be England Head Coach with immediate effect," he said.
Robinson, who was without injured World Cup star Jonny Wilkinson for the whole of his time as head coach, concluded his statement by pleading for reform of the English game which has been plagued by "club versus country rows" since rugby union went professional more than a decade ago.
RFU chief executive Francis Baron, with whom Robinson was reported to have clashed, said: "I would like to wish Andy every success in his future career."
On Nov. 5 England suffered a Twickenham record 41-20 defeat by world No. 1 New Zealand.
The following week saw England lose 25-18 to Argentina -- the Pumas' first Test win on English soil which ended with the hosts booed off.
Then came a scrappy 23-21 win over South Africa before last weekend's second Test defeat, despite holding an 11 point lead shortly before half-time.
England have only 10 matches left before beginning their World Cup defense against the United States in Lens, France, on Sept. 8.
The RFU do not have much time to get a replacement for Robinson before their Six Nations campaign starts on Feb. 3.
It is understood that the existing coaching team of Brian Ashton (backs), John Wells (forwards) and Mike Ford (defense) will be retained after the trio were appointed six months ago following the axing of England's previous backroom staff.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, Jake White survived a motion of no confidence yesterday and will continue in his role as Springbok coach, South African union president Regan Hoskins said yesterday.
White flew back to South Africa from his team's tour of England to face critics on the powerful council of provincial union presidents who had called for his immediate resignation following a string of disappointing results.
"Only a minority of members voted in the motion of no confidence against Jake," Hoskins told reporters. "He was subject to a grilling by members of the council."
The Springboks have won only five of 12 tests this year and a 32-14 defeat by Ireland prompted the motion of no confidence.