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'Fatuous' and 'cringeworthy' - Clive Woodward rips into RFU's Six Nations debrief

By Ian Cameron
Clive Woodward /PA

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Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has torn into the RFU’s Six Nations debrief, describing it as ‘cringeworthy’ in an 1,800-word diatribe.


On Wendesday the union concluded its debrief of the England men’s Guinness Six Nations 2021 campaign, its worst ever, confirming “its full support and backing of Eddie Jones as Head Coach, while recognising a sub-optimal campaign and the factors that contributed to it.”

However, Woodward has slammed the debrief as both damaging and a ‘whitewash’ and claiming that no name being attached to the document is ‘scandalous’.

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Writing in his Daily Mail column, Jones’ former colleague said it was the right decision to back the Australian, but that the report was nothing short of a

“Firstly, note that not one person is willing to have their name attached to this review. That is scandalous. We need to know the identity and qualifications of those at the RFU passing judgment and assessing a man who has twice taken sides to the World Cup final and was also involved in South Africa’s 2007 triumph.”

The RFU also stated they would ensure “external rugby experts inform all future debriefs to provide additional insight and support for the Head Coach.” Woodward questioned the logic of such of move and was surprised that Jones would accept it.

“The more I think about this, the more bizarre it seems. He might not be in a position of strength after recent results but I am absolutely staggered that Jones has accepted this nonsense.”


“As with every panel the RFU have assembled over the last decade, I would question their qualifications. It will be hard enough to find one person with the right knowledge and character to assess and challenge a coach of Eddie’s experience, let alone a panel of them.”

Woodward branded the whole debrief as nothing more than corporate ‘excuse making’.

Wilkinson World Cup
ir Clive Woodward, Sean Fitzpatrick and Jonny Wilkinson (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“It’s a cringe-worthy exercise in box-ticking, excuse-making and corporate twaddle by those who no doubt think they could coach a team like England but have neither the talent nor the bottle.

“It is so wrong that Jones will have no place to hide while those on the panel presiding over him enjoy anonymity and therefore no repercussions for their decisions.”

Woodward also called the findings in the report ‘fatuous’ and questioned the idea that players were fatigued: “And who exactly were these fatigued players who, remember, played no rugby at all from March to August last year.

“Many didn’t appear in the Premiership play-offs and played very limited rugby, or none at all, in the autumn internationals. I don’t think you will find Max Malins, Ollie Lawrence, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ellis Genge, Mark Wilson, Harry Randall, Paolo Odogwu and Anthony Watson complaining of rugby and fatigue. On the contrary they were straining at the leash. And if there were players complaining of mental fatigue, don’t pick them.”

Woodward isn’t the only one that has found fault in the debrief. Former England flyhalf Andy Goode wrote in his RugbyPass column that it read like a ‘list of excuses’.


“It’s almost like they’re responding to England’s worst Six Nations performance ever with “the dog ate my homework” rather than anyone taking responsibility. This isn’t a blame game but there should be accountability.

“In fact, they even try to dress up how bad the campaign really was by describing it as “sub-optimal”. England, with all of their resources and ability, finished fifth with only Italy below them. Sub-optimal is not the word most England fans would use.

“Issues such as coaching, player preparation and availability, breakdown indiscipline, squad transition and alignment between England and the Premiership clubs are all raised and Jones is responsible for all of that, yet he is spared any direct criticism.”





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