England close on director of rugby decision

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The Independent Online

The identity of England's first élite director of rugby could be revealed as early as tomorrow. Speculation has been rife as to whether the job has gone to Sir Clive Woodward, who masterminded England's 2003 World Cup triumph before switching his focus to football at Southampton, or to Rob Andrew, the Newcastle director of rugby.

Last night John Spencer, the former England captain and a member of the four-man panel set up by the Rugby Football Union to choose the right man, said: "No date has been set as yet. But I think it is going to be Wednesday at the earliest, purely because it cannot be done in the next 48 hours."

In reality, it is more likely to be Thursday or Friday. And Spencer did reveal that talks were still going on yesterday dealing with "minutiae", raising the possibility that the RFU chief executive, Francis Baron, newly returned from his holiday, could be in discussions with Newcastle over compensation for an Andrew move.

The rumour mills had been given plenty of grist following the postponement of Newcastle's pre-season press conference originally scheduled for yesterday. Andrew would have been present at that and, while the reason given was that it would be more about the England job than the Falcons prospects, it added fuel to the flames of speculation.

But although Spencer insisted: "A final decision has not yet been made," he did add: "I don't think it will necessitate another physical meeting between us. I am expecting to be called later this week to talk again with the panel."

The other members of the panel are Baron, England's 1980 Grand Slam captain Bill Beaumont and Martyn Thomas, the chairman of the management board. Baron's schedule tomorrow comprises a series of meetings, which adds weight to the theory that an announcement will follow sometime around then.