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Will Greenwood: ‘The RFU dropped a huge ball with us’

By Liam Heagney
Will Greenwood with the Barbarians in 2022 (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Former England midfielder Will Greenwood has revealed he is toying with the idea of trying to get into professional rugby coaching at the age of 51 but claims he doesn’t know where to start.

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The 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, who has been coaching at grassroots level with Maidenhead, believes he can improve international-level players.

Greenwood, who works for an artificial intelligence company, made the revelation during an appearance on the latest episode of the Lawrence Dallaglio rugby podcast.

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It’s now 21 years since the pair were colleagues on the Clive Woodward team that conquered the world in Australia and the topic of coaching began with ex-No8 Dallaglio bemoaning how so few of their former teammates are currently still in the game professionally.

Mike Catt is part of the Ireland set-up while Trevor Woodman is an assistant at Gloucester, but others such as ex-England boss Martin Johnson and former Leeds coach Neil Back called time on their involvement long ago.

“I still think there are opportunities there,” claimed Dallaglio. “There is a whole generation of players who were so invested in English rugby and not one of them have been taken forward and given the opportunity really.”

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Greenwood added: “The RFU dropped a huge ball with us, or England Rugby, however it is called now. There was no reaching out to go, ‘By the way, I don’t know if you have got a job, I don’t know what you are going to do post-career but we’d be quite interested to keep you in the bloodstream, to keep you close, to give you an opportunity and support you’.

“It doesn’t mean it guarantees you success. There is no woe is me here by the way because we have gone off and sorted ourselves out and you crack on.

“What am I, 51? I have increasingly thought about rolling the dice and having a go. I’m actually not quite sure where to start. I coach Tuesday, Thursday at level five and go and do coaching camps, so I love working with people who want to be slightly better rugby players.

“Love the mental health and physical health I get out of a Tuesday and Thursday night. It keeps me off the pop. My missus knows where I am. A rugby club is a great place to spend time. I have been doing that for 10 years now and I absolutely love it.

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“I suppose you are always careful to say things like this: Do I believe I could make a player at international level better? I do believe I could make a player and a backline better. Someone is going to say, ‘Right, well prove it. Go and do it’.

“But life gets in the way, work gets in the way, you’re not quite sure where the first step goes, who takes the first lead. I don’t think I am at the decision date yet but it’s close to it at 51 if you’re going to go in and have a go.”

Greenwood’s most recent taste of the game at the highest level was as part of the Scott Robertson/Ronan O’Gara staff that coached the Barbarians to their November 2022 win over an All Blacks XV at Tottenham.

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4 Comments
f
finn 63 days ago

I really like what the boks have done with bringing Vermeulen into their coaching setup.

Perhaps they would have gone to france anyway, but Lawes and Farrell could at least have been offered assistant coaching roles. Lawes could probably aptly fill the brief (breakdown, contact skills, and handling) just given to Strawbridge; and Farrell could be a pretty good like for like replacement for Sinfield when he leaves.

I probably wouldn’t want them in the national team set up just yet, but it would be good to see strings pulled to either get May, Youngs, Cole, & Care player-coaching roles in the premiership, or to move them into the under 20s coaching staff.

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