Woodward to be offered new contract
March 9, 2000

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Thursday they are to offer England coach Clive Woodward a new contract taking him through to the 2003 World Cup in Australia.

After months of speculation, RFU chief executive Francis Baron announced he will enter discussions with Woodward, who had been expected to be relieved of his duties at the end of this season after he demanded to be judged on the 1999 World Cup whereupon England performed poorly and exited in the quarter-finals, shortly with a view to securing his services.

Woodward's current contract runs out at the end of August and Baron has no intention of allowing him to slip through the net.

"Clive is our number one man and we want to see him continue his good work with England," said Baron. "We have always said that we believe Clive is the right man for the job and we want him to stay.

"We will be looking at the structures for the whole management role of the England team but as far as we are concerned we want Clive to take this side through to the next World Cup."

In an apparent turnaround on previous announcements, Baron confirmed that Woodward will retain the role of coach of the side despite indications that he might move to the new manager's role being created. The RFU are looking for an overseer for representative sides but denied that the new position would have greater authority over the senior England team than Woodward.

"We have not yet made a final decision on the management structures but what I can say is that we believe that Clive should have the major authority and he will be the figurehead of the England senior team.

"The key thing is that he enters into a new contract before his current one runs out in August and that means negotiations must start now."

Woodward has yet to win any honours with England and made a rod for his own back with the statement "judge me on the World Cup" - and there will be a few raised eyebrows over the decision to offer him a contract before the end of the current Six Nations Championship.

"I am not about to allow the England team to be without a coach," said Baron.

"That means you have to enter into contract negotiations a long time before that happens and that means we must start talking to Clive now.

"If Clive were to turn around and say that he did not want the job then we would have to find somebody else, and that takes a long time.

"What we can't do is open negotiations on August 28 and leave ourselves just three days to conclude them.

"We see Clive's role as being the coach of the team. He has told us that he wants to concentrate more on coaching and we want him to take our team to the next World Cup."

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