Craig Richards took on the role of head coach in 2017; Jodie Cunningham said the dressing room was “distraught” by the news; Australia will face former rivals New Zealand in the Women’s Rugby World Cup final at Old Trafford on November 19, kicking off at 1.15pm.
Last update: 11/15/22 00:00
Craig Richards broke down when he revealed he would step down as England manager with immediate effect following his side’s 20-6 Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat women against New Zealand.
Richards, who took the job after the 2017 tournament in Australia, saw two quick tries early in the second half sink his side and send the Kiwi Ferns to Saturday’s final against Australia.
“It will be someone else who will move the team forward and make those decisions – it won’t be me,” an emotional Richards revealed.
“I will be supporting from afar, working with my club to get these players the best they can be so that I can put them forward for club and country.
“One thing that won’t leave me is the passion I have for this England team. I’m a really passionate England manager and I’m really, really desperate to succeed.”
During Richards’ reign, his side clearly closed the gap to the Southern Hemisphere giants, with the New Zealanders triumphing 52-4 in their equivalent semi-final in Sydney in 2017.
But for Richards, that was cold comfort, having brought his side into the tournament with the firm belief that they were good enough to overcome their opposition largely on a full-time basis and win the tournament on home soil.
“When I got the job and someone sent me a video from the last World Cup, I was like, ‘Wow, what have I done?’ admitted Richards.
“One of my tasks initially was to get close to them, but I’ll be honest, a year or two later and my attitude was, we’re not going to get close to them, we’re going to beat them.
“I thought we had a team to beat them and I thought we would. Someone told me you closed the gap really well, but it’s not good enough. I didn’t tried to close the gap, I tried to win a World Cup.”
Cunningham: “Distraught” locker room
News of Richards’ departure also sent shock waves through the locker room after the game.
“Craig is a really good guy,” Jodie Cunningham said.
“He gave his all to this team and he just told us he’s not continuing and everyone is upset about it.
“He has done so much for this team as a person and as a coach and it will be a big miss.
“It will be a big job for anyone who comes up against this team, but there is also a lot of potential for what this team can do.
“Devastated, I will process this information, but I wish Craig the best in all he does and truly sad that we didn’t get this win for him.”