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Clive Woodward fancies new role with French Federation

By Nick Purewal

Sir Clive Woodward has a "burning desire" to return to Test match coaching, according to sources close to the French Rugby Federation.

The 2003 World Cup-winning former England boss is understood to be on an eight-strong shortlist drawn up by French bosses to replace Philippe Saint-Andre after the World Cup.

French rugby chiefs have refused to be drawn publicly on Woodward's candidacy, but the ex-Leicester centre is believed to have been interviewed for the head coaching job last month.

Woodward is said to be keen to make a Test coaching comeback, some 11 years after relinquishing his England post.

A source close to the France set-up revealed: "Clive Woodward met with FFR officials and explained to them just how much he wants to come back to full-time coaching.

"He told them that he has a burning desire to come back and show what he can do and he asked to be considered seriously for the role.

"It seems that Clive initiated contact, but as a result the decision-makers wasted little time in organising a meeting."

Former France hooker Raphael Ibanez is the front-runner to replace ex-Toulon and Sale boss Saint-Andre, who has come under fire for a shabby record and pragmatic playing style.

Toulouse's highly-decorated boss Guy Noves is also expected to be interviewed for the role.

Former Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie now appears an outsider, with French bosses viewing him as too complex a character.

Grenoble's Fabrice Landreau has also been included in deliberation.

Current Les Bleus boss Saint-Andre has won just 15 out of his 37 Tests in control, and has received constant flak for abandoning France's traditional free-spirited attacking style.

Woodward coached England from 1997 to 2004, guiding Martin Johnson and co to the 2003 World Cup title in Australia.

After leaving his post in 2004 he led the British and Irish Lions' Test-whitewash tour to New Zealand in 2005.

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