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RFU: Woodward won't be next chief

Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas has dismissed the notion that Sir Clive Woodward could return to Twickenham as the new chief executive.

In doing so, Thomas painted the picture of Woodward riding back into the union as the new performance director seven years after he stormed out. John Steele's decision on March 17 to cancel Woodward's interview for that role, and to then water down the job description, was the start of his downfall as chief executive as he was ousted after just nine months in charge on Friday.

"My gut feeling is that Clive would not like to be stuck behind a desk. When we advertised the (chief executive) job originally, and John got it, Clive did not apply," said Thomas. "I suspect Clive still sees himself as a man with an outstanding talent for developing performance athletes, particularly in rugby."

He added: "I am not happy about the way Clive was treated. He is the only guy to have won a World Cup for England. I have lot of respect for the man.

"I believe a proper course of action is to interview an individual of that calibre, to listen to what he has got to say and then make a decision as to whether he is the right man or the wrong man."

The RFU have tasked Jason Leonard, Richard Hill, John Spencer, Bill Beaumont and Rob Andrew to report to the June board meeting on how best to proceed with the performance director post.

When Steele unveiled the new position, as part of his management restructure in January, it was to head up the whole England operation.

The job was chiefly geared towards talent development but there was to be an input into the Test team. It appeared a perfect fit for Woodward, who is currently in charge of performance at the British Olympic Association, but Steele got cold feet and decided he wanted to remove any direct influence over the senior England team from the brief.

The board initially agreed to Steele's plan but claim they misunderstood the extent of it and forced him into a U-turn just 48 hours later. Woodward, having witnessed all of this and had his interview cancelled by email, walked away from the process.

"England currently languish at sixth in the world rankings. That is unacceptable to many of us. We are the largest rugby nation and we need to be in the top three," said Thomas. "The concept of changing a performance director role to one that is not a significant part of the England team, I am unable to accept."


From Belfast Telegraph