England 20-13 Australia
England must play in black boots argues Woodward
ESPN Staff
November 4, 2013
Colour coordination at Twickenham ... and the subject of Clive Woodward's latest broadside © Getty Images

Sir Clive Woodward, after some swipes at the current England coaching set-up in the aftermath of the 20-13 defeat of Australia, turned his attention to a far more pressing concern - the colour of players' boots.

Sir Clive's booty

  • The black-boot argument is of the more surprising post-match observations and one which may leave many scratching their head and asking what has happened to Sir Clive.

    His suggestion that referees are able to spot offside players more easily if their boots are gawdy puts to one side what we all know - most officials are half blind anyway.

    It also overlooks the helpful intervention of the RFU who by agreeing the pitch can be plastered with painted sponsored logos ensures that all those taking part are soon splattered with a multitude of different colours anyway. By then the colour of a players boots are almost incidental.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Woodward said that he was not a fan of "high-visibility, multicoloured boots" and that were he still in charge he would insist on all players wearing black footwear ...except the back three who should be in white.

Dismissing suggestions this was about him not liking players looking "flashy", he said: "If you are the referee and you are looking up at a line of defenders who are creeping forward on the offside line by a matter of inches, then a luminous boot is far more likely to catch your eye.

"Most penalties in rugby are given for offside. Why give the referee an excuse to penalise you? It comes down to those marginal gains, those one per centers as we called them, that make the difference."

And the back three idea? "Mike Brown was wearing blue boots but, significantly, they had white detail across the toe caps and I wonder if that is why the touch judge did not spot he was in touch before his run? Wingers and full back might get an edge by wearing white boots as they frequently brush the touchline but the rest should be in black."

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