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Clive Woodward wades into debate over 'ludicrous passage of play'

By Liam Heagney
Bath kicking versus Gloucester (Screenshot from TNT Sports footage)

Former England coach Clive Woodward has waded into the debate over the much-criticised minute-long kicking duel between Bath and Gloucester that featured a dozen kicks.

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Some fans, including England loosehead Joe Marler, branded the sequence of 12 kicks in a row at The Rec as the dullest 60-plus seconds even seen in the Gallagher Premiership.

Bath’s Ben Spencer kicked off the minute with a punt that was followed by five kicks from Gloucester’s Santiago Carreras, three from Bath’s Tom de Glanville and two from teammate Finn Russell before a kick from Gloucester’s Adam Hastings finally ended the spell.

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Joe Simmonds on his headspace at Exeter

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Joe Simmonds on his headspace at Exeter

It’s prompted some damning commentary on social media and Woodward, the 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning coach, has now had his say, branding it a ludicrous passage and alleging that this style of kicking is killing the game.

Addressing the issue in his latest Sportsmail column, Woodward wrote: “Putting boot to ball might lead to a greater chance of success on the field but I’ve got a huge concern that coaches and players are becoming slaves to that concept.

“The dominance of kicking reached a nadir on Sunday as we saw a ludicrous passage of play… Passages of play like the one between Bath and Gloucester are killing the game.

“They make it totally unwatchable – even for fans who love rugby, let alone potential supporters looking to get into it for the first time. I saw Joe Marler had some choice words to describe the episode on social media and I couldn’t agree with him more.”

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Woodward called on the game’s authorities to change the laws to stop these kicking passages from materialising. To illustrate his point, he referenced last Saturday’s stylishly different Premiership contest between Exeter and Northampton.

“What we all want to see is high-octane, attacking, running rugby — the sort of action those who went to Sandy Park on Saturday witnessed… Both teams went at it hammer and tongs. It was a contrast in styles and there’s nothing wrong with that…

“Northampton in particular played some brilliant stuff, led by England scrum-half Alex Mitchell. That’s the rugby I love. Not endless kicking. No one wants that.”

  • Click here to read the entire Clive Woodward column on Sportsmail  

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