July 12, 2005

Legend or loser? : Sir Clive Woodward was knighted after winning the World Cup with England but his reputation is in tatters following his stewardship of the Lions tour of New Zealand.

posted by the red terror to other at 11:26 AM - 13 comments

I've only see two rugby games in my life, one a friendly between the U.S .and S. Africa in Houston and England's championship game in a pub...at sometime around 4:00 in the morning...best I can recall. There was an amazing atmosphere for the England game and Sir Clive seemed to push all the right buttons. I just don't believe a manager can completely lose what made him successful in such a short period of time. Here's hoping he gets a shot at redemption.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:27 PM on July 12, 2005

The knives are really out for Sir Clive at the moment. I think people really respected what he did with the English team at the World Cup but they probably didn't warm to him as a person. A lot of ex-players from his generation don't seem to like him. Some people accuse him of arrogance and inflexibility. Others won't forgive him for deserting rugby for football. Making such a mess of the Lions (probably the biggest brand in world rugby) has brought all the critics out of the woodwork. Most people can probably see where they went wrong - squad picks, tactics, Alastair Campbell etc. but so good are the All Blacks that it's possible no one could beat them on that form. Whatever the result though, I really enjoyed the series, especially the Maori game.

posted by Pete at 01:09 PM on July 12, 2005

Now that he is gone, can we get back to 15 man rugby? You remember, the game that doesn't involve punting it forward, holding it in and waiting for an opposition infringement?

posted by owlhouse at 02:30 PM on July 12, 2005

It always beggared belief that Clive Woodward hired Alistair Campbell to be the team's media advisor. But now more grisly details are beginning to leak, and it's getting uglier... I'm now reading that Campbell and Woodward deliberately set up one of the Lions players (Gavin Henson) for a photo shoot ambush where a cameraman was told to secretly hide behind bushes with a telephoto unbeknownest to Henson in order to manipulate several parties and squelch rumors in the UK that there was internecine warfare going on. And worse, before the pivotal 2nd Test, Campbell -- a propagandist truth-spinner who has never played a game of rugby in his life -- was brought in to deliver a motivational speech to seasoned international Test match veterans. Apparently they were disgusted. "The inference was players had lacked desire in the first Test. One was said to be so furious he received an apology under the door of his hotel room." If this is how Sir Clive conducts business, Southampton football fans should have every reason to be worried.

posted by the red terror at 03:24 PM on July 12, 2005

Absolute loser. His whole management of the Lions tour was a shambles. He had a 45 man squad of players, and over 30 coaches. How the hell are the players supposed to get a good rapport going if a different coach is telling them to do different things every day? Some of his tactical decisions in the Tests were truly baffling, too. Jonny Wilkinson at centre? What the hell was he doing on the tour in the first place? He hasn't played since 2003!

posted by afx237vi at 03:40 PM on July 12, 2005

World Cup?!

posted by StarFucker at 04:34 PM on July 12, 2005

Woodward has heard the cat-calls, but remains defiant. Despite his team getting swept, he calls the tour a "success," says he "wouldn't change a thing" -- oh, except for one thing: next time he'd bring seventy players. Looks like Sir Clive has spent a little too much time in close proximity to Alistair Campell's up-is-down Bizarro World.

posted by the red terror at 05:12 PM on July 12, 2005

Pete says: "the Lions (probably the biggest brand in world rugby)". Bill Beaumont says the same thing, and perhaps it's true. But the brand name hardly translates into success on the field. The Lions have now played the All Blacks 38 times since 1904. Their record is 6 wins - 29 losses - and 3 draws. I remove those draws, take out my pocket calculator, and I over a century the biggest brand has a 20% winning record against the ABs. Ouch!

posted by the red terror at 06:04 PM on July 12, 2005

World Cup?! Revisionist History 101: Woodward may have won the RWC in 2003, but look at the actual performance there. England didn't really have to beat much opposition on the way to the final. Even Samoa took the lead against England at one stage. In the final itself the so-called dominant England team had to go to extra time to beat a fairly ordinary Wallabies team, and if Lote Tuqiri had held on to a final pass, it would have needed more than a Wilkinson field goal to save them. They were very, very lucky. And they won ugly, by playing to their strengths. the English media have hyped Woodward and that team way up beyond their ability. Do you remember what one English journalist said on the Lions tour about the Zurich Premiership being better than Super 12? And they think Will Greenwood is a world class centre. When did you last see him break the line? They never learn.

posted by owlhouse at 06:39 PM on July 12, 2005

Woodward certainly bollocksed it up. And for all the credit he's been happy to claim for the WC2003 win, his overall tenure with England isn't that flash and, more importantly, I would suggest that England's golden years of 2002-2003 were more a reflection of the superb leadership of Martin Johnson, arguably England's finest captain, and one of their best ever forwards. England failed miserably under Woodward, without Johnson, in their 2004 tour of New Zealand - indeed, Woodward, that scourge of foul play spent a week publicly encourageing his players to "sort out" one All Black lock, and then, when Simon Shaw kicked a prone Robinson in the spine, demanded an end to red cards for on-field thuggery - and that team, and Woodward, spent more time focused on calls of All Black cheating, refereeing, and so on, than they seemed to on playing (spot a pattern?). At a press conference after the second lost test, Woodward and Dallaligo made it clear they viewed the Lions tour next year as a chance to prove a point, which should have set off alarm bells. Why would a Lions tour offer the English team a chance to prove a point? Isn't it a four nations team? We saw why in the first test - because that wan't a Lions team, it was a team of Clive's mates from England, many of whom were woefully inadequate for the task. More details of arrogance and stupidity keep leaking out - Wooward claimed the All Blacks won lineouts against the throw in the first Lions test because they were cheating and the referees were incompetant, but then it came out that Woodward, paranoid that the All Blacks had worked out their lineout calls, had changed them the morning of the test. Cheating All Blacks and ref, eh? Not players confused by an idiotic decision at the top, oh, no. Woodward comes across as a weasel of the first water: he did his best to shit on Henry when Henry got the 2001 Lions, and has never shut up about how Henry was the worst Lions coach ever, a disaster for the Lions concept, a disgrace to the team. Now he claims the results of his own tour - a great deal less impressive than the narrow 2-1 loss in 2001 - is irrelevant and only the World Cup really matters. He claimed before he had the best and most professionally prepared Lions team ever, and that he should be judged on the results of the test. But now, apparently, it's all OK because the players had fun. And Pete, Woodward reckons these All Blacks are nothing special. So that can't be why the Lions got caned. It's a real shame, too. The Lions supporters who came to New Zealand were, from my contact with them, a fantastic bunch. One English bloke spoke passionately to me about how great it was to come somewhere where rugby is everywhere and it's the main sport, as though it were a pilgrimage of sorts for him. These fans spent a fortune to come to the other side of the world to support the Lions, and were let down badly - as were the New Zealand fans, because we were looking forward to a real, old-fashioned tour with some tough, exciting rugby, and we got a damp squib. Only the mid-week side actually seemed to really care about getting out and about, winning games, and enjoying themselves. Those players, and the evergreen Geech, deserve credit for playing like Lions.

posted by rodgerd at 07:00 PM on July 12, 2005

rodgerd - only by calling on my deepest reserves of restraint did I manange not to stand up in my cubicle and applaud your post. There is a thin line between greatness and idiocy - and the difference between walking on one side of it or the other is luck (and, in this case, Martin Johnson) - I'm glad to see that "Sir" Clive is finally being exposed for the idiot he has always been. I don't generally like to kick a man when he's down, but in this case I'll gladly make an exception. I'm angry for the talented Welsh and Irish players who didn't get a look in or got played out of position to accommodate a selection error - but I'm far more angry for the thousands of fans who spent millions of pounds to travel literally to the other side of the world to see that shit. I concur that that All Black team were incredible, and I suspect that even the best team the Lions could have put forward wouldn't have beaten them, but we could at least have had 3 blinding games with a great team being pushed to produce even more stunning rugby than it did.

posted by JJ at 04:51 AM on July 13, 2005

There's more insight into rugby and the Lions in these few entries than in the whole of the Lions management! There's an interesting article in today's Guardian which sticks the boot into Woodward and Campbell again - I thought you might enjoy it!

posted by Pete at 12:14 PM on July 13, 2005

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