Rugby Rugby

Woodward rules out England rugby return


LONDON, England, November 18 – Clive Woodward has insisted he has no desire to coach England again following Martin Johnson’s resignation as manager.

Johnson lifted the World Cup in 2003 as England captain when Woodward was the team’s manager.

Legendary lock Johnson, after being parachuted into the post of England manager in 2008, with no previous coaching or management experience, resigned Wednesday following a disappointing World Cup campaign where the team failed to reach their stated goal of a semi-final spot after a last eight loss to France.

Woodward said he felt “sorry” for Johnson, adding someone in England’s governing Rugby Football Union had to be accountable for the decison to put a novice boss into such a high-profile job.

“I’ve no wish to coach England again,” Woodward, now the director of sport at the British Olympic Association, told Sky Sports on Thursday.

“I’m totally committed to the BOA,” Woodward added ahead of next year’s London Olympic Games.

England’s campaign in New Zealand was also blighted by several off-field incidents, notably a drunken night out in Queenstown which led to unflattering headlines regarding 2003 World Cup winner Mike Tindall.

Former Test centre Woodward, who like Johnson played for Leicester, said he’d urged his old skipper not to take the England job when Brian Ashton was forced out after the 2007 World Cup.

“I actually said you should come to Leicester, spend four or five years there and earn your stripes,” Woodward explained.

“Basically I feel quite sorry for Martin Johnson because if you are asked to coach England you are going to say ‘yes’.

“Let’s be brutally honest, he had no coaching experience, no managerial experience, so it was a huge risk by those who put him in.

“I just don’t feel they put anybody alongside him to help him, to negate that risk, to make sure that the risk was worth taking.

“We’ve just allowed a rookie manager to just run his own ship for three and a half years without any real analysis, assessment.

“I think that is so so wrong and someone should really be accountable for that.”

The RFU, who’ve lost a chief executive, a chairman and now the manager of their flagship side within a matter of months, would like to get a successor to Johnson on board in time for the start of the Six Nations in February.

The search is being led by Rob Andrew, the RFU’s elite rugby director, who is now aiming to work alongside the fourth England head coach of his five-year tenure at Twickenham.

Since Johnson quit, renewed attention has focused on Andrew.

But the former England fly-half has dismissed suggestions he too should resign, saying his job is about far more than the Test team.

Woodward urged the RFU not to rush into a decision, saying a caretaker manager could oversee the Six Nations as England looked to rebuild ahead of hosting the 2015 World Cup.

“We’ve got this huge issue coming up now, who is the next England coach? What are the right criteria?” Woodward said.

“We can’t get it wrong, because I think we have got this one wrong. In Martin’s own words, it’s not gone well.”

Former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett has ruled himself out of the race to replace Johnson, with Northampton boss Jim Mallinder the leading English candidate.

Graham Henry, who stepped down as New Zealand coach after guiding the All Blacks to World Cup glory last month, and former Australia coach Eddie Jones have also been linked with the role.