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Will Greenwood questions make-up of RFU panel named to review the World Cup

Will Greenwood fears the panel assembled to investigate England's World Cup disaster will repeat the mistakes of previous reviews and questioned Sir Clive Woodward's absence from the inquest.

A five-man group including Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie, 2003 World Cup winner Ben Kay, former British and Irish Lions head coach Sir Ian McGeechan and former Football Association boss Ian Watmore will seek answers for the darkest hour in Red Rose history.

Misgivings have been raised over the composition of the quintet, which is completed by professional game board chairman Ian Metcalfe and will present recommendations to the RFU board at their next meeting on November 17.

It was Ritchie who ratified Stuart Lancaster's permanent appointment as England head coach in 2012 and then gave him a new contract lasting until 2020, while McGeechan was on the panel that advised that the Cumbrian be given the post.

The future of Lancaster and his coaching lieutenants is in grave doubt, but McGeechan gave his backing to the 46-year-old as recently as two weeks ago.

"England have a strong coaching team in Lancaster, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree. I cannot see anything better out there which is readily available," McGeechan said.

Greenwood, who won 55 caps for England from 1997 to 2004, insists that as the mastermind of the nation's World Cup triumph 12 years ago, Woodward should have been involved in the inquest.

"Clive is the elephant in the room. I'd have him there all day long," Greenwood said at the Beyond Rugby event in central London.

"From the outside what you see is samey, samey. (The) same group making potentially the same mistakes.

"If you you want a dynamic group of people to come in and go 'right, what's wrong what can we do?', Woodward should be in the room.

"The argument is keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Now Clive is not an enemy but he's a ghost.

"He's a giant spectre that gets thrown into the pot the whole time. You bring him on board we've got no rubbish to throw.

"Were you to look at some of the great business leaders of our time, very few tend to be conformists. I for one would have Clive throwing stones from inside, rather than boulders from outside.

"They aren't meant to be boulders but he is employed as an analyst. He says what he thinks. And in that panel he would say what he thinks."

Greenwood's World Cup-winning team mate Lawrence Dallaglio was also baffled as to why Woodward was not asked to be involved in assessing England's failure to reach the knockout phase for the first time.

"Cleary we've arrived at the wrong decision quite a few times now and it's important we arrive at the right decision now," Dallaglio

"The legacy of this World Cup should have been about how the game will grow, but ultimately it will be about who is England head coach.

"Clive is English, has had the job before and has won the World Cup, so surely he must be qualified on how things should be taken forward?

"But we'll continue to ignore the one person who has actually delivered in this competition. I despair of that a little bit."

Details of the review have finally been released 16 days after England were knocked out of the World Cup by a record 33-13 defeat by Australia at Twickenham. The hosts' involvement in the tournament also spanned 16 days.

The scope of the review will be to assess preparation and performances and the effectiveness of the coaching, management and support team. It will also consider all feedback given by relevant stakeholders including players.

Greenwood welcomes the presence of Kay among the five who will conduct the review and while he believes Lancaster and assistants should remain in place en masse, insisting they "haven't lost the dressing room", he knows there are alternatives available.

"I'd keep Stuart, but there are some great candidates out there and we're not short of resources. No-one is unreachable and if they do decide to change they have to go for it - a super coach," Greenwood said.


From Belfast Telegraph