RFU silent over Healey speculation

The Rugby Football Union has refused to comment on reports linking Austin Healey with an England coaching role.

The Rugby Football Union has refused to comment on reports linking Austin Healey with an England coaching role.

Former Leicester star Healey, 34, is the latest ex-England player to find his name connected to a possible Twickenham post.

In Healey’s case it is that of backs coach, which could see him joining England’s existing staff of Brian Ashton, John Wells and Mike Ford.

Speculation continues to rage that England’s 2003 World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson will take up a team manager’s post following talks with RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew yesterday.

Andrew has now gone on holiday, but it is anticipated he will present his annual RBS 6 Nations review to the RFU management board next Wednesday.

Twickenham bosses are keen to have any new managerial and coaching team in place ahead of England’s two-Test New Zealand tour in June.

Healey, who won 51 England caps before retiring in 2006 and toured with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, has no coaching experience at the highest level.

He was, though, one of the most inventive players in world rugby, lining up for England in several different positions, including scrum-half, fly-half and wing.

An RFU spokesman said: “We are not commenting on newspaper speculation.”

Andrew is likely to recommend that existing coaches Ashton, Wells and Ford continue in their current roles after England last week secured a best Six Nations placing – second – since 2003.

But it is unclear at this stage whether or not any rubber-stamped decisions will be announced by the management board next week.

South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White, meanwhile, has reaffirmed his desire to take charge of England if a vacancy arises.

White, currently a free agent, has also predictably been linked with Ireland’s head coaching position – Eddie O’Sullivan resigned earlier this week – alongside the likes of Australian Pat Howard and Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam mastermind Mike Ruddock.

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