Woodward rules out English rugby return

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Sir Clive Woodward ruled out a return to the top of English rugby on Thursday, insisting he had no plans to leave his high-profile job with the British Olympic Association (BOA).

In a statement which comes as a stinging embarrassment to the Rugby Football Union, Woodward confirmed he had held informal talks with Twickenham officials about a return in the newly created position of performance director.

However, Woodward, who guided England to victory in the 2003 World Cup in Australia, said he was "totally committed" to his current role with the BOA.

"In order to prevent any further speculation and in the interests of both the BOA and RFU I would like to formally confirm that I will not be attending any interviews for this position," Woodward said.

"I am totally committed to my role as Director of Sport at the British Olympic Association and Deputy Chef de Mission for Team GB in London 2012."

Woodward's decision comes after a chaotic 10 days where the RFU's attempts to find a suitable candidate for the new job, which is to oversee all elite English rugby teams, had descended into farce.

RFU chiefs were in uproar last week following the decision by chief executive John Steele to change the job description for the new post, stripping the role of any responsibility for England's senior Test team.

That move was seen as a deliberate snub to Woodward, making the position less attractive to the World Cup-winner and other high-profile candidates.

But that in turn led to another U-turn, where the initial terms of the job were re-instated, clearing the way for Woodward to return to the organisation he resigned from amid acrimony in 2004.