Woodward dismisses jibes

Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward believes Australian ‘sledging’ will only focus English minds ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final clash in Marseille.

Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill, speaking ostensibly on behalf of his country, recently stated that “we all hate England”, and Wallaby forward Hugh McMeniman followed up by accusing the English of playing dirty.

“You can expect anything from the English really, definitely off-the-ball stuff and anything if you are lying on the ground – a bit of a scratch in the eye,” he said.

But Woodward praised O’Neill as “the best chief executive in world rugby” before dismissing the comments as “hot air” that would only motivate England.

“[O’Neill] was simply telling the truth, the blindingly obvious,” Woodward told the The Times, “they do hate us so what is the big deal?”

What’s more, Woodward revealed that the new slights would be logged for posterity.

“We used to keep a ‘teamship’ book that had a whole heap of derogatory comments from other nations about what they really think of England,” he said.

“Every player that I worked with will know what I am referring to. The ‘teamship’ covered all of our agreed operational procedures and set the standards we wanted to be measured by, especially compared to other sports teams.

“We collected many quotes from players, coaches and administrators just to keep everyone focused on what we were up against at the World Cup in Australia and how difficult it was going to be.”

Woodward also revealed that, for the first time since he quit the England job, he misses being involved with the national side.

“The consequences for the losing team, especially Australia after defeat on home soil four years ago, are too great to contemplate,” he said.

“For the first time since I stopped coaching England, I feel a real pang of envy.

“Playing countries from the southern hemisphere, especially Australia, is the pinnacle, the really big games when everything is on the line, so I am very envious of those involved in what could and should be another classic confrontation.”


365 Digital

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