Graham Rowntree, the only coach to survive England's shambolic World Cup campaign, has revealed that he was ashamed to be seen in public after arriving back home from New Zealand.
England's disastrous World Cup campaign has been well documented, with players and coaches fielding more questions at press conferences regarding their actions off the pitch rather than on it and culminating in a sensational report which had players slating the coaching staff under the cloak of anonymity.
Between their premature exit at the quarterfinal stage and the off-field distractions which were laid bare in the embarrassing report which was mysteriously leaked to the media there were not many people who came away with their reputations intact.
Rowntree was the only coach who escaped harsh criticism, and it is no coincidence that he is the only member of Martin Johnson's support staff that will be involved in the Six Nations set-up, but that did not help when he had to return home and face up to the man on the street.
The former Leicester Tigers and England loosehead prop admitted that the shame he felt after the national team had let the country down made it difficult to muster the courage to take the kids to school.
He told the Telegraph: "When we landed, for the first time in my life I felt ashamed. Ashamed of being a part of it. We got back on the Monday and I didn't go to pick the children up from school for a few days, or drop them off, because I didn't want to see anyone.
"I didn't want to see friends who know what job I do, or mates in rugby. I just wanted to stay away from people," Rowntree explained.
The former front row forward said that even though he had got away and escaped from much of the spotlight, the fall-out from the World Cup had felt like taking a number of blows to the body.
"I had a week away with my family the week after. It was Center Parcs in Nottingham," he says. "Luckily there weren't too many rugby fans there. It gave me some thinking time to reflect. Then we had our reviews. Johnno resigned, then the leaks broke. That four-week period was hard. Very hard."
However, with that debacle in the past it is time to look to new beginnings, and Rowntree explained that England's 'interim' coaching staff of himself, Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell are viewing their caretaker positions as an opportunity to show that they can take England out of this difficult period.
"At our hotel I’m going to get a sign for our door: 'Caretakers’ Office'," he joked.
"I don’t view it like that though. We're the England coaching team and we're in the spotlight. I don’t think we need to look beyond," he said.
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