Woodward to face World Cup inquest

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The Independent Online

By Paul Trow

By Paul Trow

14 November 1999

The England coach, Clive Woodward, will provide his verdict on what went wrong during the recent World Cup campaign and outline his proposed preparations for the forthcoming Six Nations' Championship at Twickenham on Tuesday morning.

Woodward has been pilloried by a number of senior figures within the game, including the former international prop Jeff Probyn, who is now a Rugby Football Union committee member, for the England squad's perceived shortage of tactics and lack of variety during the defeats by New Zealand and South Africa.

Since the resignation of the New Zealand coach, John Hart, in the wake of the All Blacks' semi-final collapse against France and their subsequent third-place loss to South Africa, Woodward has been under pressure from certain quarters to follow suit.

But the top brass at headquarters appear to be backing Woodward despite England's disappointing quarter-final exit from the seven-week tournament. He will be joined on the podium at the post-World Cup media debriefing by the Rugby Football Union's chief executive, Francis Baron, and the former Lions manager Fran Cotton, who is chairman of the Club England initiative.

Cotton has already gone on the record as saying that he thinks Woodward is the man for the job, and that the real problems facing English rugby have been caused by the structure of the domestic game.

According to the RFU's director of communications, Richard Prescott, Woodward did not attend Friday's meeting of the full RFU committee. "Clive has obviously spoken to both Francis and Fran about the World Cup, but he was never due to address Friday's committee meeting," said Prescott. "Nothing had been put on the agenda about the World Cup."

This display of solidarity behind Woodward, though, is unlikely to deter his critics, who have been given further ammunition by the case of the injury-prone Bristol and England wing David Rees, who needs an operation on an abdominal muscle tear and is unlikely to play again until the new year. Bristol's director of rugby, Bob Dwyer, is annoyed that no one from the England hierarchy has attempted to contact either the club or Rees about the matter.