English Rugby
Woodward questions Johnson's approach
ESPNscrum Staff
January 8, 2012
Clive Woodward and Martin Johnson pose with the Webb Ellis Cup during the International Rugby Board Awards at Wharf 8 in Sydney, Australia on November 23, 2003.
Sir Clive Woodward sits alongside his captain Martin Johnson following their 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Martin Johnson | Clive Woodward
Teams: England

World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has conceded that he would have taken a "different approach" than Martin Johnson did following the disastrous campaign in New Zealand.

Woodward guided England to the 2003 World Cup title in Australia when Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal sealed victory over the hosts in the final. Such success contrasts greatly with the miserable campaign by the team in New Zealand last autumn, which ended with a quarter-final defeat by France and also featured a number of off-field controversies.

Johnson subsequently stood down in November, to be replaced by Stuart Lancaster as interim head coach. Woodward believes Johnson paid the price for failing to manage what was happening both on and off the pitch.

He told the Independent on Sunday: "Johnno did it his own way as every coach does. I am not saying the way I did it was right or wrong but it would have been different. Okay, I was successful but it would be wrong to say that was the blueprint. But you are judged on results off the pitch as well as on it and you have to get that right. Sadly Martin didn't, and clearly became badly unstuck."

England's campaign was blighted by several high-profile off-field incidents - most notably an infamous boozy night out in Queenstown that saw centre Mike Tindall embroiled in a tabloid scandal. "I never had to experience the sort of things that went on there in my years in charge," Woodward told the newspaper. "We were very, very big on discipline, how we operated both on and off the field. It's not just the obvious areas of drinking and partying, it's all sorts of things.

"I would have sat down with them as individuals and then as a team, looked them straight in the eye and said, 'How do you want to be remembered?' I know how I want to be remembered, and that's for being on the back pages rather than the front pages.

"I can think of nothing worse than being remembered for doing something inappropriate that would affect the performance of a team-mate or another athlete. It will be with you for the rest of your life."

Woodward, who has many times been linked with a return to Twickenham, is supporting Lancaster and believes England will emerge from what has been a bleak spell. He added: "You wish him well. He's got a great opportunity and I just hope he picks the team that every England fan says, 'Wow, I am looking forward to watching this'."

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