Woodward slams England's open door policy
March 21, 2013
Did England boss Stuart Lancaster drop the ball with his decision to allow the media unprecedented access? © Getty Images
Former England boss Sir Clive Woodward has criticised current coach Stuart Lancaster's decision to offer the media unprecedented access into his side's recent Six Nations campaign.
Lancaster has worked hard to re-build England's relationship with the media since the dark days of the 2011 Rugby World Cup by offering regular insights into his plans for the national side but his decision to grant the BBC exclusive access to his side's build-up for their clash with Italy has attracted stinging criticism from his Woodward.
BBC Radio 5 Live went behind-the-scenes at England's Pennyhill Park training base for the 'Inside Lancaster's England' documentary that was broadcast on the national station on Wednesday night.
"The working environment of an international rugby team should be absolutely secret -- and never more so than in a Test week," Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail. "International rugby is a very serious business -- indeed, it is hard to think of any business that would allow such access."
"...If it isn't going to enhance the performance of the team significantly, why do it?
"...If I had England in my sights, as both Australia coach Robbie Deans and Wales's Warren Gatland do ahead of the 2015 World Cup, I would listen to every word and capture every piece of information I could."
Woodward also took aim at some of the demands made of Lancaster his focus at crucial times. He said: "Why is the head coach presenting to the council on the Friday afternoon before a Test match? Lancaster is the head coach, not the director of rugby, and at that time his only concern must be the success of the senior team."
Lancaster's own methods were also questioned with Woodward pointing to a perceived over-reliance on sports psychologists. "The interview with team psychologist Bill Beswick reminded me of a conversation I once had with Sir Steve Redgrave. I asked him about sports psychologists and he said: 'As soon as you need a sports psychologist telling you how to win you might as well pack it in.' He confirmed in one sentence my own view -- sports psychology has an important role but, in a team sport like rugby, the key messages must come through the coaches."
Woodward also confirmed that when he was England coach he made a point of hiring security guards to avoid intrusion into the team's camp rather than welcoming in cameras.
He said: "It was all part of creating a world-class environment where security and secrecy was high on the agenda. I wanted to give the players the impression we were under siege, that they were in a rarefied environment available only to them.
"People act differently when a camera is rolling or there are microphones around, it is human nature and you cannot afford to have that distraction...Knowing what to make public and what to keep behind closed doors is a balance that comes with experience."
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