x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Woodward upset at way his views were portrayed

The former England rugby union coach Sir Clive Woodward has defended the comments he made about the state of the England national team.

Sir Clive Woodward has defended his comments he made about the England rugby team.
Sir Clive Woodward has defended his comments he made about the England rugby team.

ABU DHABI // Sir Clive Woodward awoke in Abu Dhabi yesterday dismayed at the way his comments about his beloved England rugby team's humiliating 42-6 defeat by South Africa at the weekend were portrayed in the media, insisting that he did not go off on an angry rant as reported. "I made a comment that I would not have put any England player in the South African team and that it was a bad day at the office. And then it all comes out like this."

He added: "I woke up this morning to see a text asking me what I had been saying and I replied 'what am I supposed to have said?' The quotes were accurate but the way they were used did not reflect what I said. "The BBC have called me to apologise," said Woodward. "The apology is too late, though, because what I have said has gone in all the papers. I am very annoyed about this. I don't expect a respectable organisation like the BBC to treat me like this.

"The declaration that Woodward was calling for a root and branch review of English rugby is complete nonsense," he said. "I was asked a question about England and I said that I was there and said I was disappointed." Woodward, who coached England to their World Cup triumph in 2003 but has watched in anguish as that solid platform for sustained success has been eroded away by what he perceives as lack of leadership at the Rugby Football Union.

"Good coaches have lost their jobs," he added. "They have got rid of so many important people so it is no surprise we are in the state we are at the moment, losing at Twickenham by a record score." Woodward is confident, however, that Martin Johnson, the current England coach who captained that World Cup-winning side of five years ago, will come through the crisis, if given the chance. "I would have put Martin in charge had the decision been mine. He has my full support but it is clear that he has a big job to do. It is not an ideal world for him to come in without any coaching or management experience but I still think he is capable of doing the job."

Woodward, who was in the UAE to speak to a conference organised by Etihad, is expecting England to bounce back when they play New Zealand on Saturday. "I don't think they will win that game but I think it will be a lot closer," he said. "We had lots of lows when I was coach. The big thing is that you have to look round the table and see who is with you. As long as Martin has got a team of people around who he wants he will get through this."