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Dallaglio credits Clive Woodward with 'reinventing the game'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ex-England back-rower Lawrence Dallaglio has hailed his former boss, Clive Woodward, for being the disruptor who revolutionised the England game, leading to Rugby World Cup glory 20 years ago in Australia.


Appearing in William Hill’s podcast, Up Front with Simon Jordan, Dallaglio cast his mind back to 2003 when England conquered the rugby world for the first time, an achievement he reckons would not have been possible without the involvement of Woodward as head coach.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we would not have won the World Cup in 2003 without Clive Woodward,” said Dallaglio.

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“He revolutionised rugby beyond all belief. He is one of those rare people who played at the highest level, for teams like Leicester, England, and the British and Irish Lions, but those weren’t really winning teams in those eras.

“He did some things which were incredible when you look back on them now. He is what I would call a disruptor – when the Home Nations were obsessed with winning the Five Nations.

“He would say that’s great and it is a wonderful achievement, but to win World Cups you have to be obsessed with beating the best in the world. If you focus on your petty battles within the Celtic nations, that won’t work.

“He changed the mindset from just being focused on winning the Five Nations to asking us what we wanted to be. None of us were household names and he wanted all of us to be famous in a few years’ time. He changed our mindset completely.


“Clive realised that we needed to be pioneers and innovators within the game,” Dallaglio continued. “What we had been doing was following everything New Zealand and South Africa were doing, but once you have followed it fully, they’d be two steps ahead again.

“There have been nine Rugby World Cups, eight of which have been won by New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and there is a reason for that.

“He reinvented the game and went to America to see that they had separate defensive and offensive coaches and brought all these specialisms to the sport.

“Then the others started to follow what we were doing; everyone was wearing tight fitting shirts and England were the first to do that.


“The first thing he did when he arrived on the job was say, ‘New Zealand are the best team in the world, where do they stay when they play here?’ and we said they stayed at Pennyhill Park Hotel, and he said, ‘not anymore they don’t’, and we kicked them out. It was just a little message to let them know we were after them.”

Adding that Woodward was a risk-taker, Dallaglio singled out the coach’s signing of Jason Robinson from rugby league. “He took risks as well. The most obvious example is Jason Robinson.


“He persuaded his chief financial officer that buying Jason Robinson for £1.5million was a good idea. It turned out to be an outstanding idea because he is one of the most talented players ever, but it was a huge risk because he had never played rugby union.”

  • Click here to watch the full Lawrence Dallaglio episode on Up Front with Simon Jordan



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