Woodward launches fierce attack on Andrew and Baron

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The Independent Online

Sir Clive Woodward, the World Cup-winning coach is "unconvinced" by Rob Andrew's ability to lead England's recovery and has also called for the Rugby Football Union chief executive, Francis Baron, to step aside in favour of an experienced former player.

Andrew, the RFU's elite rugby director, is charged with replacing Andy Robinson, who was sacked as head coach after 13 defeats in 22 Tests since 2004.

"I have heard so much drivel spoken about what needs to be done to improve the preparation for this England team and remain unconvinced by Andrew's vision, based on his lack of experience as an international coach," Woodward said. "Interfering with the England team and selection makes the role of elite rugby director untenable. What is needed is for the England head coach, alone, to be given complete control over every member of the England squad.

"England's head coach must be a man of massive stature to do an all-encompassing job. But which coach worth his salt, unless he was desperate for work, would take the England post at present with Andrew hovering, having a say in what is in effect a selection committee and with no control of the players?"

Woodward believes the former South Africa coach Nick Mallett is the best man to lead the world champions, but he said: "Only one thing is for certain - it will be yet another fudge. So much nonsense is spoken."

Winning the World Cup in 2003 was "the worst thing that ever happened to the England team" according to Woodward, as it glossed over the failings of the English system. "Baron, who has successfully managed the finances, should now step aside for the good of the game," he said. "Perhaps in favour of someone with knowledge across all areas of the sport, such as [the former England centre] Simon Halliday."