England’s RFU chasing Clive Woodward again

Sir Clive Woodward has been told he must quit his role with the British Olympic Association if he wants to be appointed the new performance director of the Rugby Football Union.

The RFU are in limbo after former chief executive John Steele quit Friday following a unanimous vote at an emergency board meeting.

Woodward’s name has been linked with the performance director’s job as well as the position of CEO.

Steele’s position had beeen under threat since he changed the job description for the new performance director postion last month, stripping the role of any responsibility for England’s senior Test team.

That was seen as a deliberate snub to Woodward, making the post seemingly unworthy of the 2003 World Cup-winning coach and other high-profile candidates.

Yet, 48 hours later, that was followed by another U-turn where the initial terms of the job were re-instated, possibly clearing the way for Woodward to return to the organisation he resigned from amid acrimony in 2004.

Woodward is currently the performance director of the BOA and deputy Chef de Mission for the British team at next year’s London Olympics.

After the RFU’s double U-turn he insisted he remained totally committed to his Olympic roles but Steele’s exit has reignited speculation that Woodward, a former England centre, could be returning to Twickenham.

However, with the English governing body aiming to fill the post after this year’s World Cup in New Zealand, RFU management board chairman Martyn Thomas has insisted there is no way Woodward could hold both positions before joining full-time after the Olympics.

“The England rugby team and its success is critical to me,” Thomas told BBC Radio Five’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday.

“We languish in sixth in the IRB (International Rugby Board) rankings, it’s unacceptable,” he added.

“I don’t believe we can have a situation where a part-timer is doing the job, even if he was to come at a later stage. That for me would not be an answer.

“We need a man that has a skill set that is 100 percent committed to putting England back to where they need to be.

“We need success in New Zealand and that is totally down to Martin Johnson and his coaches and we then need to be looking forward to 2015, which may sound a long way away but it isn’t.

“The RFU job is a full-time job. We have already lost a lot of time.”

Turning to Woodward, Thomas said: “As an Englishman I am a supporter of Clive Woodward to the extent he is the only Englishman walking who has lifted a World Cup.

“He also had a very talented group of players.

“Clive knows my telephone number and I would happily speak to him.”

Meanwhile Thomas said Johnson, Woodward’s World Cup-winning captain and the current England manager, had not been unsettled by the administrative upheaval at Twickenham.

“I have spoken to Martin and he is very clear in his response,” he said.

“And that is ‘I will do what is in the best interests of England, that is my sole objective’.

“He is incredibly focused on this World Cup.”

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