World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward has declared France as the “team to beat in four years’ time” after Shaun Edwards was confirmed as their defence coach.
The former England coach said this on Twitter after Edwards joined Fabien Galthie’s coaching team to start a new era in French rugby.
Woodward was himself a candidate to take over the France team from Jacques Brunel after the RWC and he has said that the former Wales defence coach will be a “real game-changer” for them.
However, Woodward also questioned, “Why England Rugby did not move heaven and earth to get Shaun to Twickenham?”
This is surely on every England rugby fan’s mind and has indeed been for the past twelve years, as Edwards was also linked with England in 2007 before he joined Warren Gatland’s set-up with Wales.
Well done @FranceRugby re Shaun Edwards .. a real game changer for them – France will be the team to beat in 4 years time . Have never understood why @EnglandRugby did not move heaven and earth to get Shaun to Twickenham , another English coach working with our greatest rivals ?! https://t.co/R0rcZIaomd
— Sir Clive Woodward (@CliveWoodward) November 14, 2019
The former British and Irish Lions coach rued the fact that this is “another English coach working with our greatest rivals”. During his time with Wales, Edwards won four Six Nations titles alongside Gatland, including three Grand Slams. He has been the architect of what has at times looked like an impenetrable defence, particularly in 2019 where it was the platform for their success.
This looks like another four years that Edwards has evaded England’s grasp and it is understandable why questions are being asked as to why yet another country will bear the fruits of one of the country’s top coaches. John Mitchell has done a wonderful job with England since he joined Eddie Jones’ staff in 2018, but there was surely a role for Edwards in some capacity.
Shaun Edwards' peaked cap can now officially become a beret as the worst kept secret in rugby has been confirmed… he will be working with France after leaving Wales
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 13, 2019
After Brian Ashton’s departure following the 2007 RWC, Edwards was a popular choice to become part of a new-look England coaching team. This was off the back of years of success with Wasps, both as an assistant and head coach, where he was a major exponent of the blitz defence.
He brought his defensive nous to the Wales team in 2008 and established them as a force in the northern hemisphere – and indeed global rugby – after that. What’s worse for England fans is that he orchestrated one of the lowest points in their history, when they were knocked out of their own RWC in the pool stages courtesy of Wales.
Given this success, it is no surprise that Woodward feels that Edwards can help revive French rugby – albeit he, and many others, are confused that England have not captured him.
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