England Rugby
Woodward: RFU are "laughing stock"
ESPNscrum Staff
November 20, 2011
Sir Clive Woodward OBE, Director of Sport for the British Olympic Association speaks during a IOC meetings, Westminster Bridge Park Plaza, London, England, April 6, 2011
Sir Clive Woodward fears England are set to repeat the same mistakes of the previous four years © Getty Images

Sir Clive Woodward has claimed the Rugby Football Union has reduced England to a "laughing stock" and is doomed to make the same mistakes again as they seek to replace Martin Johnson.

Woodward, the coach of England's World Cup-winning team in 2003, has launched a withering attack on the game's administrators and the process used to appoint Johnson, something he now expects to be repeated.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Woodward said: "Martin Johnson has gone but has anything else changed?

"I have a serious fear that all the mistakes made at Twickenham, which have reduced England to something of a laughing stock around the world, are about to be made again and four more years will then be wasted.

"All the people who appointed Johnson - a man who had never coached anyone at any level - are still in place. There is nobody who understands elite performance and rugby at the very top. Equally disturbing, the same people are going to appoint the next coach." Woodward singled out the under-fire elite rugby director Rob Andrew and his role in the process.

"He refused last week at a press conference to take any responsibility for the past shambles," Woodward said. "Then he told the media that he took no responsibility for anything that happened at the World Cup.

"So why does he have responsibility for choosing the new coach. The absolute key question for me is whether he has the skill set to appoint the new coach. Experience says he does not."

Woodward says Johnson should not have been handed the job in 2008 due to his lack of experience, claiming that while the former England captain still has the potential to be a top coach, he was handed this chance too early.

"He has the qualities to be an outstanding coach, just as good as he was a player and captain, but even he cannot learn this job at the very top level on the hoof," he said.

He states a preference for an English coach to get the job, naming Jim Mallinder, Richard Cockerill, Toby Booth and Neil Back as contenders, while also suggesting that Alex King and Mike Catt should come into consideration. And Woodward believes Conor O'Shea and Mark McCall could also be interviewed if the RFU look beyond English coaches.

"An English coach would know the country and the culture," he said. "England have so many coaches, so many resources - if so enormous a rugby country cannot produce a contender, what does that say about rugby here and our coaching development programmes?"

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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