Wednesday, April 04, 2007

How Sir Clive would save England

December 12, 2006

England's World Cup-winning head coach Clive Woodward writes a long exclusive for the Sunday Times diagnosing the disatser that has befallen the RFU in the wake of his departure. It's a long and hard-hitting diagnosis. Here's a sample:

How I'd save England rugby from the abyss

Clive Woodward
The Sunday Times
10 December 2006

When England won the World Cup in 2003, it probably seemed to the outside world that we were travelling on a gleaming, modern cruise liner. We were not — we were on the Titanic.

I realised it even as Martin Johnson held the trophy above his head in Sydney. It is personally shattering for me to say this, but winning the World Cup was the worst thing that ever happened to the England team.

Fantastic at the time, of course, but the worst thing.

People still ask me exactly why I stood down as England’s head coach. My memory was refreshed a little when I sat in the committee box of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) during the autumn internationals last month. Two images struck me, and stay with me. One was the sight of Francis Baron, the RFU chief executive, with his arms folded, shaking his head at what was unfolding in front of him. Personally, I found the spectacle before the New Zealand game of Baron opening an unfinished and expensive new stand as the team on the field withered and died from neglect, highly symbolic. When I resigned, I was largely alone in thinking such thoughts. These days, I feel that I am very far from alone.

No doubt as he shook his head, he was considering his next move. Andy Robinson, the England head coach, turned out to be the next person to be, to all intents and purposes, sacked. Robinson, for all his failings, was another soft target, as were his backroom team of Phil Larder, Joe Lydon, Dave Alred and, only last week, the brilliant Dave Reddin. These guys are all World Cup winners, world-class coaches made scapegoats for the failings of others.

The other image was that of Rob Andrew, the RFU’s new elite rugby director, sitting one row behind Robinson, peering at the match directly over the coach’s shoulder. Why? I can think of a few heavy-duty top coaches I clashed with in my time with England — Nick Mallett, John Hart, Graham Henry, Rod Macqueen, Eddie Jones — who would not have allowed this and told Andrew, in two short words, to stop hovering and remove himself back into the committee box where he belonged. Both images underlined so much of what is wrong and why England are on the edge of the abyss.


Keep reading -- he's got lots more things to say!


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