Rugby Union: RFU may allow part-time coach

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Jack Rowell may not have felt much like laughing as the Rugby Football Union dragged his reputation through the mire last week, but he will surely see the exquisite irony in Twickenham's latest blueprint for the England coaching set-up. Clive Woodward, the former Leicester centre and current Bath coach, will meet the RFU kingmakers next week to discuss taking over the No 1 role on a part-time basis.

It was Rowell's reluctance to pledge himself full-time to the England job that gave his RFU critics the lever they required to prise him out of office. It now appears that both Woodward and Roger Uttley, another respected former Lion who is considering an offer to take over the England managership, will be permitted to continue their respective existing commitments with Bath and Harrow School.

"There has been no job offer as such," said Woodward after Bath's Allied Dunbar Premiership defeat by Newcastle on Saturday. "But I've spoken to Bill Beaumont (chairman of the national playing committee) and Don Rutherford (RFU technical director) and they want to meet this week. That's how it stands, straight down the line.

"The one thing I do know is that I'll be staying at Bath until the end of the season, as per my agreement with Tony Swift and Andy Robinson. Outside of my commitments here I'm free to do other things, but I could not take on a full-time job with England until next May."

That is unlikely to worry an RFU hierarchy increasingly desperate to settle on a new team after finding themselves rejected by Ian McGeechan, their preferred choice, and then by the understandably disenchanted Rowell.

Woodward, who honed his imaginative rugby philosophy during a four-year spell in Australia and remains in close touch with a number of influential Wallaby insiders, will also insist on overall responsibility for coaching matters and an influential say in the appointment of other coaches in the national structure.