Woodward cranks up the pressure on Lancaster
January 24, 2012
Sir Clive Woodward claims the pressure is on Stuart Lancaster to succeed © Getty Images
Lancaster has taken control of the team on a short-term basis following England's unsuccessful World Cup and Martin Johnson's resignation, a major step up in status for the former director of rugby at Leeds Carnegie. Lancaster was promoted from his previous position of head of elite player development at the Rugby Football Union, and World Cup-winning coach Woodward feels he has a lot of hard work in front of him.
Seemingly dismissing Lancaster's spell as director of rugby at Leeds during the 2007-08 Premiership season, Woodward told the Guardian: "Considering the fact that he's never coached a team at Premiership level he must be thinking how lucky he is to get this opportunity. You wish him well but international rugby is a tough environment. My advice to him would be to play it down.
"Look, he's spoken a lot of common sense but it's easy to talk common sense. How can we make any judgments when we've not seen how his teams even play? In the end he will be judged solely on results. The Six Nations is a tough competition and he's got a lot to prove."
Woodward, who has consistently been linked with a return to Twickenham in some capacity, has been impressed by Lancaster's public relations skills but stressed that the real test would come in the Six Nations.
"A fresh approach was needed at Twickenham and it's (been) good media work. But the closer he comes to the first game, against Scotland, the more he'll realise this other stuff is irrelevant. The relevant stuff is about how his players hit the first rucks and how they use the ball they win."
And Woodward has admitted that he was shocked by the off-field conduct England exhibited during the World Cup. "I know Martin Johnson and he's a very pragmatic guy," Woodward said. "I went to New Zealand for the last two weeks and [England] had left by then. You just shrug your shoulders. There's no obvious answer.
"We all know about the stuff in the bar but for me the real tipping point was when I saw them bungee jumping. I just thought: 'What on earth is going on?' Imagine Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington bungee-jumping a week before the Olympic Games. You're laughing. That sums it up. But this was what the rugby guys were doing in effectively their Olympic Games- the World Cup - and it was sanctioned by the management. Everyone at Twickenham needs to look at himself."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.