World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson was named as team manager of England on this day in 2008.
Johnson officially took the reins on July 1 as Brian Ashton’s reign as head coach came to an end, but over the next three and a half years Johnson would be unable to bring the same golden touch he had enjoyed as a player to a management role.
In his first game, England looked rusty but managed to overcome the Pacific Islands in the first of four autumn internationals.
In 2009, England defeated Italy, France and Scotland but were edged out in Wales and Ireland as they finished second in the Six Nations. Later in the year a win over Argentina was followed by defeat to the same opponents in the southern hemisphere before losses against Australia and New Zealand.
In 2010, England finished a disappointing third in the Six Nations with only two wins.
They produced another clinical display at Twickenham to see off the Wallabies, albeit either side of reversals against New Zealand and South Africa.
England looked to be clicking into gear when they claimed a rare win in Cardiff at the start of the 2011 Six Nations. The last time they beat Wales on their own turf was in 2003, when England – captained by Johnson – did the grand slam.
Next came the World Cup. While England had four wins in four to top their group, they were given stern tests by Argentina and Scotland. And their shortcomings were ruthlessly exploited by France in a 19-12 quarter-final loss.
Johnson’s position came under further scrutiny after a number of off-field controversies, with captain Mike Tindall and Manu Tuilagi fined for separate indiscretions and others reprimanded during the tournament. A month after defeat to Les Bleus, Johnson stood down as England manager.