Home     Articles     News     Forum     Lists     Sport     Movies     Stags     Rankings     Bathurst     Who's hotter?      Profiles     Gallery     Music     Gingers     Funny     Events     Links


Goodbye Sir, And Good Riddance
 <!-- -->
Dignity is a word you often associate with great people, great achievers, great sportsmen even. Dignity is not something that springs to mind when reviewing the fortnight Sir Clive Woodward just spent in our fair part of the world.
22/06/2004 12:06 PM
Dignity is a word you often associate with great people, great achievers, great sportsmen even. Dignity is not something that springs to mind when reviewing the fortnight Sir Clive Woodward just spent in our fair part of the world.

It wasn't long ago that the Queen uttered those immortal words, "Arise, Sir Clive". Well I utter a few more now: "Goodbye, Sir Clive, and Good Riddance."

Let's get one thing straight before I go on. And I will go on. This is not Pom bashing, or some Anglophobe tirade. I would do the same if it had been a New Zealander behaving like a spoiled brat who hadn't got his own way and was having a good old cry about it. I'd say the same thing to the Kiwi as I say to England's rugby coach now: Grow up.

History has eventually proven Woodward to be a pretty good rugby coach, or at least a hell of a good tactician, organiser, plotter, motivator, spender of money and leader. He has, after all, taken England to the top of the rugby world and there is absolutely no doubt it was a deserved ascendancy to the throne in Australia last year.

But that was then and this is now. And here we had the coach of the world champions in our country for a couple of tests against the All Blacks. After what I've just witnessed the last two weeks, particularly in Auckland, the Queen might well want to ask for that knighthood back.

Woodward has always had a touch of arrogance about him. In many ways it goes with the territory. To succeed as a coach at this level you've got to have belief, convictions, confidence, all those things that in abundance can border on arrogance. And while he remained in pursuit of that Webb Ellis Cup there was an us-against-the world approach he almost thrived on.

But he won it. And I truly thought that would go a long way to removing the angst and whatever else it is that drives this peculiar man. Sadly, it appears not.

After Carisbrook's 36-3 hiding from the All Blacks, Woodward was flat out embarrassed. Lost in the long list of laments about his own team's shortcomings had been the fact that he was unwilling to lay too much of the credit at the feet of his opponents. Fair enough.

England coach Clive Woodward contemplates another defeat - Fotopress
In fact it says a lot about the English (and their traveling troupe of press) that they spent much of the week between the two test matches convincing themselves that All Black lock Keith Robinson - their chief tormentor in Dunedin - was barely fit to lace up a pair of boots at this level. It was almost an attitude of "How dare this antipodean ruffian be so obtuse as to get physical with us!"

Moving on. Clearly Robinson, and his mates in the black pack, had got so under the skin of the English that they came out at Eden Park intent on dishing out a bit of biffo themselves. Big mistake. All they did was commit a rugby form of hara-kiri, Simon Shaw given his marching orders after 11 minutes for what may have been a piece of thuggery or just a gentle reminder, depending on your viewpoint.

Covered Himself In Shame

There are any number of opinions on the Shaw dismissal which effectively decided the contest thereafter. But there are only two facts: his braindead kneeing of the prone Robinson put him in a position to be judged; and the decision, by touch judge Stuart Dickinson, was to remove him from the match.

So we come to Woodward's response. And it is here that the England coach has covered himself in shame.

Before coming to the press conference, through watching replay after replay after replay in the Sky production wagon, he had apparently convinced himself an injustice had been done. He then unleashed a tirade of finger-pointing accusations and not so subtle innuendo that defied belief. Never before had any of us seen such a bad loser losing his rag so comprehensively.

OK, Woodward had perceived the decision to be a poor one, but it so jaundiced his view on everything he began rambling like a madman.
Simon Shaw takes the walk of shame on Eden Park - Fotopress
He clearly wasn't happy with Dickinson's competency, he was sure the official had been influenced both by the crowd and the TV replay screen ("We don't have them at Twickenham," was just one of his more pompous responses) and for some reason he began dredging up an incident involving Ali Williams in Wellington last year, as though it had any relevance.

"Simon Shaw is not a dirty player," he told us ad infinitum. Perhaps he didn't see the off the ball blow to the head of Kiwi hooker Keven Mealamu in the first test then. He was in such a fit of pique none of us dared mention his hypocrisy.

And sure Williams may have committed an indiscretion in Wellington last year, but what sort of buffoon uses that as ammunition now? Geez, Danny Grewcock has been booting defenceless Kiwis in the head for a living and it doesn't raise a peep from the All Blacks camp.

There was more, much more, from Woodward. He remained convinced his England side was "a better team" than the All Blacks, despite losing the two tests by a combined score of 72-15, eight tries to nil. What is more, he reckons the New Zealanders have some real weaknesses on defence. The same defence his side couldn't score a try against in two tests.

It was all very sad. Enough to make you want to go out and buy your tickets for the Lions tests right now.