Inside Lines: Steele shows mettle but no tug-of-war over Woodward
Sunday 09 January 2011
Will Sir Clive Woodward pick up the oval ball and run with it back to Twickenham, or will he kick it into touch?
There is little doubt that John Steele, the Rugby Football Union's new chief executive, sees the former World Cup-winning England coach as the ideal figure for the role of performance director, created as a result of Steele's overhaul of the game. Steele, appointed last September, has shown his mettle with this radical review but will not engage in a tug-of-war with the British Olympic Association, Woodward's current employers, knowing that Sir Clive faces a dilemma similar to his own when he had to decide whether to continue working towards London 2012 with UK Sport or return to rugby.
In his case rugby won, but no pressure will be put on Woodward to follow the same route.
While the BOA chair, Colin Moynihan, whose appointment of Woodward as director of elite performance caused initial conflict with UK Sport, would be disappointed to lose him, my understanding is that he will not stand in his way should he wish to go. So the ball is now firmly in Sir Clive's court. The question is whether he really wants a return to the rugby scrum after being allowed to wing it with the BOA, where he has overall charge of their coaching programme and has been named as deputy chef de mission for 2012.
The affluent RFU should have no problem in matching his reputed £300,000-a-year salary, but Woodward, 54, would need to be approached about the soon-to-be advertised job rather than being expected to apply for it. My hunch is that Woodward will see it through to 2012 with the BOA and then look towards moving to a football club.
He worked briefly with Harry Redknapp at Southampton before gravitating to the Olympic arena.
Daunting new fight for Elvis
Sad news of two popular giants of unarmed combat. Londoner Gary Mason, 48, the former British heavyweight boxing champion, a hugely likeable character who lost only once in 38 fights – to Lennox Lewis – was killed in a road accident when cycling on Thursday. We also learn that one of Britain's best-known judo champions, Elvis Gordon, a world heavyweight silver and European and Commonwealth gold medallist, is fighting cancer.
Elvis, 51, a Wolverhampton school caretaker, has lost almost half his original 20st. A fellow former champion, Neil Adams, is among those organising a testimonial fund. Donations can bemade by PayPal to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kell in the clear
Kell Brook, the undefeated British welterweight champion, still hopes his one-time amateur spar-mate Amir Khan can be tempted into a domestic dust-up later this year. Meanwhile, he is set to move closer to a world championship bout with a likely interim title fight in March, according to his promoter, Frank Warren.
In our interview with Brook last week it was stated he had been convicted and tagged following an alleged nightclub assault, an offence he has always denied. We are happy to makeit clear that subsequently this conviction was quashed following an appeal at Sheffield Crown Court when the alleged victim failed to appear and Brook, 24, described bythe judge as "a young man of good character", had his legal costs refunded. Sorry, Kell.
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