RFU should wait before naming new England coach - Woodward

Sir Clive Woodward
Woodward is performance director at the British Olympic Association

Sir Clive Woodward says the Rugby Football Union should wait until a chief executive is in place before appointing a new England head coach.

He is concerned the RFU could make "the same mistakes again" when selecting Martin Johnson's successor.

Woodward told BBC Sportsweek: "One person should be responsible for the criteria used to make the selection.

"I want there to be far more detail about it - this time we've absolutely got to make sure we get it right."

Woodward, England's 2003 World Cup-winning coach, said it had been a mistake to appoint Johnson, who had no previous coaching experience.

He added: "We've got to make sure the people who are given that role - that make those appointments - are qualified to do it."

Johnson, who captained England in 2003, stepped down last Wednesday after a difficult three-and-a-half years in the post.

England's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew will lead the search for a replacement, but Woodward is adamant the RFU wait until it has appointed someone to replace the outgoing acting chief executive Martyn Thomas.

"It just seems to me like it's back to the worst part of the amateur days," continued Woodward. "Rob is suddenly saying 'right, I'm going to go and chose who's going to be the next England coach'. I'm just going 'guys, slow down'.

"They put Martin in - not only had he not coached international rugby before, he'd never coached anyone before.

"That was a huge risk. I'd want to know why Rob made that call and on what basis and what criteria it has been successful."

Woodward also says the RFUexternal-link should have given Johnson more encouragement to carry on in the role into next year.

"It was the wrong decision for him to step down," said Woodward. "I think they should have given him another Six Nations or the tour [to South Africa in the summerexternal-link] to try and resurrect a bad World Cup.

"I think if Martin had received real enthusiasm from Twickenham to carry on even for the next six months, there would have been a strong argument for him [to do so].

"We've lost three-and-a-half years of someone's experience out the door and we have to start again. I think that's what's most disappointing."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder has confirmed his interest in replacing Johnson, as has ex-Australia coach Eddie Jones, while former Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan says he would need "a lot of convincing" to take the job.

Among those to have ruled themselves out of the running for the vacant post are Leicester coach Richard Cockerill, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea, former South Africa coach Jake White, and former Italy and South Africa coach Nick Mallett, who was approached by the RFU last week about applying for the job.

World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry is also unlikely to seek out a role with the RFU.

Woodward, who has ruled out a return to coaching England himself, used his column in the Sunday Timesexternal-link to state that the RFU had reduced English rugby to a "laughing stock".

He wrote: "In sporting terms, it is now life-and-death time for English rugby.

"But I also have the sinking feeling that when the RFU reaches the end of a totally flawed process and announces the new England coach as successor to Johnson, when the chosen one is anointed, people will turn to each and say; 'You must be joking.' "

In the article, Woodward went on to outline his own four-point criteria for selecting the new coach, but speaking to Sportsweek, he refused to be drawn on whether he would be willing to return to a position within the RFU next year.

He is currently performance director at the British Olympic Associationexternal-link, a job he will remain in until after the 2012 Olympics.

"I love my job at the moment," added Woodward. "And there's no vacancies [in the RFU] as far as I'm aware."