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'I don't like him as a bloke': Eddie Jones rekindles Clive Woodward feud

By Josh Raisey
Sir Clive Woodward, former England manager looks on prior to the Six Nations Rugby match between England and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on February 04, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

With Eddie Jones no longer coaching England, and not coaching an international team whatsoever after resigning in the wake of Australia’s World Cup, his feud with Sir Clive Woodward has died down. But the Australian showed there is still life in the rivalry yet.

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This is a multi-decade war between the pair that first ignited at the beginning of the millenium as Woodward coached England and Jones Australia, with the former getting the better over his adversary in the 2003 World Cup final. Things took a different turn in 2016 when the Australian took control of England, and as the second half of his tenure began to unravel between 2020 and 2022, Woodward, now a pundit, was one of his most vocal critics.

Coaches in most sports have never been afraid of quarrelling, but most disputes peter out quickly. This, however, Jones recently revealed was “personal”.

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New Zealand rugby pundits react to the Springboks winning the Rugby World Cup

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New Zealand rugby pundits react to the Springboks winning the Rugby World Cup

As a guest on England rugby league great James Graham’s The Bye Round Podcast recently, Jones opened up on this feud with Woodward, and explained why it goes far beyond the usual back-and-forth that is part of the game, which is why he ultimately doesn’t like the Englishman.

“You’ve got to be forthright with what you think,” the 63-year-old said. “He hasn’t coached since 2005 and he’s the ‘world’s best coach.’ You’re the world’s best coach when you don’t coach. What’s the old thing, the man in the arena?

“He’s consistently criticising. We had a bit of a thing when we were England and Australia coach, but his great gripe is that he wanted to be director of rugby at England. He wanted to oversee it and he never got that job. After the World Cup in 2019, he ran an internal campaign with the RFU to take that position and he did it behind my back and I thought it was quite sneaky and deceitful.

“So every time since, if he says something, I really don’t value his thoughts at all and I don’t like him as a bloke. Because he was so deceitful. Most blokes in our sport, they’re generally face-to-face, and I don’t mind that. If someone has a different opinion, say it and we’ll have a debate about it. But when people start doing things behind your back, and particularly the power he had in the media, I thought it was a bit red hot.

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“He made it personal by doing all that stuff behind the scenes. He’ll deny it to the hilt. But I always find it a bit sad, and I hope that when I do finish coaching I don’t become one of those blokes that knows everything. ‘He should have done thing, he should have made the change here’- coaching and playing is all about foresight, being a pundit is all about hindsight and you’re always right.”

While this rivalry has simmered down now Jones is out of the limelight, it is clear to see that there is still bad blood.

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1 Comment
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Bob Marler 196 days ago

You know. If I had to choose a bloke to spend the day with, say, stuck in a lift. Or queuing for the new iPhone. Or braaing wors rolls.

I’d probably pick Eddie. Clive, not so much.

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