Woodward rules out RFU return

Thu, 19 May 14:19:00 2011

Sir Clive Woodward has categorically ruled himself out of a return to the Rugby Football Union - insisting he is 'fully committed' to helping Great Britain's athletes prepare for next year's London 2012 Olympics.

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The Rugby World Cup winning coach has long been linked to the new performance director's post at Twickenham, despite a less than close relationship with recently installed RFU chief executive John Steele, the former head of UK Sport.

He admitted to informal meetings with senior figures at the RFU - in full knowledge of BOA chairman Colin Moynihan and chief executive Andy Hunt - but insisted he had never submitted his name or was formally interviewed for the position.

"Since the Rugby Football Union announced its restructuring plan late last year, there has been considerable speculation that I might return to the RFU," said Woodward.

"I have not participated in a formal interview for this position at any stage in the RFU process.

"From the outset I had made it clear to both Colin and Andy that I would only attend a formal interview with their full knowledge. I would like to express my thanks for their understanding over this situation and also for their considered views which have been greatly appreciated.

"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.

"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. We have an historic opportunity ahead, when more than 500 of Britains most accomplished Olympic athletes will represent Team GB, at home, in the London 2012 Games.

"May I wish the RFU all the best in its search to find the appropriate candidate for this very important role for English rugby going forward.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to wish Martin Johnson, his coaching team and all of his players every success, but especially for this years Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, which all rugby fans are so looking forward to.

Woodward was employed as the BOA's director of elite performance five years ago, having briefly held a performance director role with Southampton football club, in addition to coaching the British Lions on their disastrous 2005 tour of New Zealand.

His role at the BOA has been questioned by many, with his reported 400,000 salary a point of contention for many national governing bodies.

Woodward's future was also in doubt when funding for his flagship coaching programme was scaled back but it's thought rabid politics and private agendas are the major reason why he is not returning to the RFU.

However, BOA chairman Moynihan, a firm supporter of the former England rugby coach, welcomed the decision.

He said: Clives decision to forgo possible opportunities with the RFU and remain with the British Olympic Association is welcome news for Team GB.

"As we work to provide British athletes and their NGBs with the highest levels of service and support in connection with their participation in major international Games, the work Clive and his sport team are doing is critical. 

"British athletes can be confident in knowing that Clive and his team are working in close partnership with performance directors, coaches and other leaders throughout British sport to find and deliver the crucial, difference-making innovations and services that will help underpin their continued success in the international arena.

More than the Games / Eurosport

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