Clive Woodward

Clive Woodward
Sir Clive Woodward
Full name Clive Ronald Woodward
Date of birth 6 January 1956 (1956-01-06) (age 55)
Place of birth Ely, Cambridgeshire, England
School HMS Conway Naval School
University Loughborough University
Occupation(s) Director of Elite Performance for the
British Olympic Association
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Centre
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Loughborough Students
Leicester Tigers
correct as of 13 September 2006.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
British and Irish Lions
correct as of 14 September 2006.
Coaching career
Years Club / team
London Irish
England U21
British and Irish Lions
correct as of 26 October 2006.
Rugby union career

Sir Clive Ronald Woodward OBE (born 6 January 1956) is an English former rugby union player and coach. He was coach of the England team from 1997 to 2004, managing them to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He is currently the British Olympic Association's Director of Elite Performance.


Early life

Woodward was born in Ely in Cambridgeshire. the son of an RAF pilot. He was sent to HMS Conway School Ship as his father disapproved of his ambition to play professional football. At Conway, he played rugby union at centre alongside fly-half Iain Duncan Smith, who would later become leader of the Conservative Party. According to Woodward, he was not selected to play for the Welsh Schoolboys side, but he was good enough to play rugby union for a Welsh school.[1]

According to his autobiography, he applied to do a law degree at Durham University, but was turned down even though he was good enough[1] and instead, he found a job at a London bank.[citation needed]

Playing career

His first club was Harlequins but he left to go to Loughborough University where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in sports science followed by a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). He then played as a centre for Leicester from 1979 to 1985. He made his England debut against Ireland on 19 January 1980, as a replacement and went on to gain 21 caps for his country, playing his last game on 17 March 1984 against Wales. He was a member of the 1980 British Lions tour to South Africa and 1983 British Lions tour to New Zealand.[2] He was most noted for his centre partnership with fellow Tiger Paul Dodge.


In 1986 he transferred office from Xerox in the UK to Xerox in Australia. He joined the firm Portfolio Leasing Australia Pty Ltd which was located in North Sydney. During this time he was joined by fellow Englishman and Rugby Player Steve Holdstock. He was held in high esteem in business circles for his handling of large transactions of computing leasing and rentals which was fairly new to the market in Australia at the time. He continued to play rugby, for Manly, and even trained once with the Wallabies. There he learned about Australian rugby which was considered to be at a more advanced developmental stage than that in Britain. Woodward came to believe that the Southern hemisphere teams were not invincible and with the right preparation could be beaten.

Rugby coaching career

He returned to the UK in 1990 to start his own IT leasing company and he became coach of the then obscure Henley, who were promoted to the national leagues. After a short but successful spell of coaching at London Irish, he was unable to handle the politics of the club and was forced out. He became assistant coach at Leicester's arch rivals Bath under Andy Robinson, and when Jack Rowell retired as coach of the England team in 1997, Woodward acquired the job.[1]

He had the job of transforming the England side from the amateur era into the professional one. Having been quoted as requesting that the press judge him on England's performance at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, when they were beaten by South Africa, his job was questioned. The team developed and subsequently won a Grand Slam in 2003 followed by the 2003 Rugby World Cup, beating the reigning champions Australia in the final. He was knighted in the 2004 New Year's honours.

After the 2003 World Cup, England came third in the 2004 Six Nations (behind Grand Slam winners France and Triple Crown winners Ireland). His last tour as England coach came shortly afterwards, with an ill-fated tour of New Zealand and Australia. England were beaten by New Zealand in two tests, without scoring a single try, going down 36-3 in the first and 36-12 in the second. The team then went to Australia, where they were beaten 51-15.

In February 2004 he was appointed Head Coach for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. The Lions lost the test series 3-0. Woodward's management was criticised by many commentators and players for his initial squad selection, his coaching methods, his handling of the players and the media, his selections on tour - particularly for keeping faith with the England players he knew well - and for not allowing the test team any time to play together before the test series began. He returned from New Zealand with his reputation within rugby severely tarnished.

On 24 October 2011, Woodward was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, alongside all other Rugby World Cup-winning head coaches and captains from the tournament's inception in 1987 through 2007 (minus the previously inducted John Eales).[3]

Resignation and football coaching

Woodward's contract with England was due to run until 2007. Following the retirement of key players like Lawrence Dallaglio and Martin Johnson, and some very poor results after the World Cup success, he again struggled to cope with the politics of English rugby, particularly the Premiership clubs' relations with the England management. Woodward was linked with a switch to football and, although he had denied these rumours, on 1 September 2004, Woodward announced that he would be quitting as England coach.

Initially, a move to Southampton Football Club seemed likely, as Woodward was a friend of chairman Rupert Lowe. Lowe discussed this possibility with the club's board on 2 September 2004. However, in his resignation press conference, Woodward said that his intention was to take the Football Association's Grade Two coaching badges after the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand:

I'm interested in football, I intend to do the awards but I may end up coaching Maidenhead under-nines. You have to start at the bottom and I intend to do that.

However, Woodward continued his move into the Football League in 2005 by becoming Performance Director at Southampton Football Club, without undertaking any coaching at non-league clubs. With no experience of professional football, he again had problems with the politics of the situation, and was widely believed to have had a difficult relationship with the club's then-manager Harry Redknapp.[4] For example, his appointee as head of sports science, Simon Clifford, left the club in November 2005, after only two months, amid resentment from the club's existing staff.

Following the departure of Redknapp in December 2005, Woodward was suggested as a possible candidate for the manager's position at the Championship club, despite his lack of experience in the game. He was subsequently appointed Director of Football to work alongside newly appointed Head Coach, George Burley. On 31 August 2006 it was confirmed by Southampton that he was no longer working at the club.

British Olympic Association

On 6 September 2006 it was announced that Woodward would be returning to sport as the new director of elite performance for the British Olympic Association. This is a role similar to that for which he was believed to be a candidate at his former employers the Rugby Football Union (Rob Andrew was eventually appointed to the position).

In 2007 he was appointed to the board of directors of Leicester Tigers as a non-executive director[1]

On 6 March 2008, he had the privilege to run with the Olympic torch while going through Russell Square, London.

At the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games he acted as Deputy Chef de Mission and undertaking a review of practices at the games for preparation for London 2012


Woodward released his autobiography, 'Winning!' in 2004. He writes of the triumph of England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the preparations and celebrations, and his personal life, playing and coaching career. In 'Winning', Woodward refers to Yehuda Shinar as one of the people who helped to turn the team around and who helped them win the World Cup. A biography of him, 'Clive Woodward: the biography', written by Alison Kervin, was published six months later.


Woodward is an Honorary President of the Wooden Spoon Society, a children’s charity that harnesses the support of the rugby world.

Sir Clive has also played in the annual Gary Player Invitational charity golf tournament to assist golf icon Gary Player raise funds for various children's causes.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Woodward, Clive (2004). Winning!. Great Britain: Hodder & Stroughton. pp. 479. ISBN X. 
  2. ^ "2005 British & Irish Lions Management". British & Irish Lions. 
  3. ^ "RWC legends inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  4. ^ Redknapp and Woodward deny rift, BBC Sport, Retrieved 13 October 2007

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jack Rowell
English national rugby coach
1997 – 2004
Succeeded by
Andy Robinson
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Bernard Laporte
IRB International Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Jake White

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