The East Terrace
Johnno to miss trip Down Under?
April 30, 2010
Johnson is double-booked this summer with England and his family vying for his services © Getty Images
Note: We have been asked by the Rugby Football Union to stress that the following story is a work of fiction.
England supremo Martin Johnson is facing serious disciplinary action from the Rugby Football Union after revealing he is unable to travel on England's 2010 summer tour to Australia.
In a shocking admission - which in the worst case scenario could even see him lose his job - Johnson informed the RFU's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew this week that he had double booked his family summer holidays with England's tour Down Under.
England are under huge pressure to turn around their fortunes and perform at the 2011 World Cup and the latest administrative error will seriously disrupt the team's planning and preparation.
"I can't believe I could have been so stupid," said the former World Cup winning captain, "I could have sworn we weren't playing anywhere this summer, let alone Australia. When my wife asked me to book a trip to Disneyland, Florida for me and the extended family for June the whole England tour just completely slipped my mind."
Johnson claims that the day he purchased a family package to Disneyland (including flights; hotels; park entry; a family set of Mickey Mouse t-shirts and hats; Donald Duck badges and a free McDonalds Happy Meal) had been a particularly stressful one: "Me and my coaching team had spent over nine hours going through video analysis of a bunch of Guinness Premiership matches and, I'll be honest, I was a bit zoned out when I got home and logged on to my PC to book the trip."
To make matters worse the previous three days had seen Johnson travelling all over England meeting with various players and coaches on matters relating to England's 2011 World Cup Campaign. The former second row's hectic travelling schedule is believed to have affected Johnson's judgement.
"I've just been under so much pressure lately, what with the World Cup coming up. It's a stressful position and sometimes these things happen. You know, it's funny, you spend so much time looking at every possible little detail you forget the overall picture. For example, I can tell you how many tackles each of our wingers have made in the past nine Tests without even looking at my stats.
"I can tell you the exact percentage of lineouts we win in the opposing half in dry conditions compared to games played in rainy conditions. Heck, I can tell you with over ninety percent accuracy the exact lineout codes and moves used by Team England over the past fifteen years. But, you know what? Despite all that I completely forgot we were touring Australia this summer, playing two Tests and also facing the Australian Barbarians. Whoops. My bad, I guess."
Members of Johnson's extended family, believed to include cousins, aunties and uncles, have issued a public statement that they fully expect the 2010 Disneyland holiday to go ahead with Johnson and that no consideration will be giving to allowing the head coach to leave for Australia.
"Despite reports to the contrary," said a Johnson family member, "Martin will be present for large parts of June with his family in Disneyland. We would like to stress that his attendance in Florida is not negotiable and we fully expect him to report to the Disneyland Magical Fairy Castle at the start of June for what promises to be an enchanting family holiday in which countless dreams will come true and millions of magical memories will be made.
"Whilst we understand that the RFU would very much like Johnson to be present in Australia this summer, we can assure them that Johnson's promise to take certain family members on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad take priority over the activities of a bunch of guys in shorts chasing an oval ball around a field."
Despite hints that Rob Andrew is still trying to broker an eleventh hour deal between the Johnsons, many in the rugby community strongly doubt that anything can be done now.
One former international stated, "I won over fifty caps for my country in the engine room of the front row, scrapped my way around South Africa, New Zealand and Australia in some of the dirtiest and toughest matches in rugby history, but if you think my wife would let me cancel a pre-booked family holiday for another rugby tour, well, you've got another thing coming."
The holiday mix up is the worst incident of it's kind since winger David Duckham pulled out of an England Five Nations match in the 1970s after forgetting he had promised to help the local vicar sell cup cakes and orange squash at the village fete.
James Stafford is editor of The East Terrace (theeastterrace.com) - an offside view of life in the rugby world