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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 09:27 GMT
Big names demand England shake-up
Andy Robinson
Robinson oversaw a shocking England performance in Paris
England's humiliating 31-6 defeat by France has sparked a wave of criticism for coach Andy Robinson and his staff.

Former England back Austin Healey has demanded that Robinson and his support team be sacked immediately.

And ex-England coaches Geoff Cooke and Dick Best say Robinson's reliance on rugby league tacticians Joe Lydon and Phil Larder is stifling creativity.

England's final Six Nations game is against Ireland on Saturday, with the team due to be announced at 1400 GMT.

Leicester star Healey, capped 51 times by England, told the Daily Mirror: "Enough is enough. Something has to be done and I would wield the big stick now.

"That was as bad a performance as I can ever remember seeing from an England team.

Make no mistake, this is a crisis
Dick Best
"The players looked to be lacking in inspiration and tactical awareness - and that is down to the coaches.

"I have spoken to a number of the players and the consensus is that they're not sure what's going on.

"They think they are getting better coaching at their clubs and that is a worrying thing.

"Robbo's got to hold his hand up and say: 'I've given it my best shot but unfortunately I'm not good enough.' I think it is time he did that."

The defeat in Paris on Sunday has sparked a storm of criticism, with backs coach Lydon and defence organiser Larder under particular pressure.

Best told The Guardian: "Make no mistake, this is a crisis. It seems to be there are too many people with rugby league backgrounds in the England camp.

Our use of the ball against France was terrible
Geoff Cooke
"But these guys are contracted up to and beyond the World Cup. Save in Wales, no international coach falls on his sword these days. The cost would be astronomical."

Cooke, England manager for the 1991 World Cup, told The Independent: "Joe Lydon was a fantastic rugby league player.

"But does he have the union knowledge to give England an effective attack? Our use of the ball against France was terrible."

Roger Uttley, who coached England during the same campaign, added: "Every organisation needs some sort of rethink on a fairly regular basis to keep it up to the mark.

Mike Catt of London Irish
London Irish star Catt could lift England's midfield malaise
"The guys in place have been there for sometime and there could be a need for a few changes."

Meanwhile, Best has called for wholesale changes for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Ireland - including the recall of veteran London Irish centre Mike Catt.

Best told Five Live: "I would put out the biggest SOS I could to Mike Catt and say 'please come and play'.

Catt last played for England on the ill-fated tour of Australia and New Zealand in June 2004.

Robinson will be boosted, however, by the comments of RFU bigwig Fran Cotton who was on the four-man panel who appointed him as coach to succeed Sir Clive Woodward.

Andy and his coaching team have some soul-searching to do
Fran Cotton
"Andy is a top coach but he knows you get a pat on the back when things go well and you cop it when things go against you," the former England prop said.

"But it would be crazy to change the whole set-up so close to the World Cup.

"Andy and his coaching team have some soul-searching to do, though.

"The performance against France was not what is expected and they have got to have a good look at themselves."

And another former England coach Jack Rowell told the Daily Telegraph: "It's far too late to make changes.

"This is only Robinson's second season and there is plenty of time before the World Cup."

RFU management board chairman Martyn Thomas told The Guardian: "We will do what's necessary to enhance our chances of doing well in the World Cup.

"If that means making changes, so be it, but we are not going into panic mode."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Fran Cotton


Interview: Dick Best



SEE ALSO
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France 31-6 England
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France 37-12 Italy
25 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Scotland 18-12 England
25 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Six Nations - final permutations
12 Mar 06 |  Six Nations


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