Woodward urges RFU to consider all options in coach search


Clive Woodward believes the Rugby Football Union (RFU) should look to "see if there is an English way forward" as a replacement for Stuart Lancaster is sought. 

Lancaster left his position as England's head coach by mutual consent on Wednesday, having presided over a dismal Rugby World Cup campaign that saw the tournament hosts eliminated prior to their final pool game.

It appears highly likely that Lancaster will be succeeded by a foreign coach, after RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie stated the need to appoint someone with "proven international experience".

However, Woodward - the man at the helm for England's World Cup win in 2003 - feels a broader recruitment search would be beneficial.

In his column for the Daily Mail, Woodward said: "A lot of people's first reaction - including mine - has been that we now need a foreign coach. That doesn't have to be the case.

"A big name is not necessarily the right name. It is a real shame some of our proven Premiership coaches - headed by Northampton's Jim Mallinder and Exeter's Rob Baxter - will not be considered.

"There are some great English rugby brains out there too - the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Ben Kay, Will Greenwood and Matt Dawson - and we need to involve them. Let's see if there is an English way forward first before we bolt for an overseas coach."

Woodward emphatically ruled out a return to his former job, insisting "I have no interest in being that coach", and questioned Ritchie's credentials in leading the hunt for Lancaster's successor.

"We find ourselves in the same position as we did four years ago when Martin Johnson stepped down having accepted the blame for a poor World Cup campaign in New Zealand," Woodward added.

"Yet all those individuals who selected Johnson for the role were left unblemished and allowed to carry on. Other than Lancaster being spared the indignity of a media conference, this is no different.

"I simply do not believe Ritchie, who does not know a ruck from a maul, is the right man to lead this appointment, let alone have the new man report into him in the years which follow.

"His track record over the last four years indicates this. There is something that just does not feel right about England, with all our wealth and resources, now raiding another country for their coach while telling us all everything is rosy in the garden. It's not a way to make you popular in the rugby world.

"England absolutely must get this next appointment and the chain of command 100 per cent right and that means that there needs to be a strong rugby voice calling the shots."