Although Clive Woodward’s position is still unclear after a day with more twists than Chubby Checker, it seems the remaining argument is just over the terms of the divorce.
In a further bizarre twist to the Clive Woodward story, it appears now that he has not yet handed in his letter of resignation as he indicated he was about to do earlier Wednesday.
Following a meeting with Francis Baron, Chief Executive of the RFU, Woodward said that he was going to hand in his resignation later today (Wednesday). The only remaining issue was whether or not they would accept it.
There was a further crisis meeting later in the day attended by Sir Clive, his solicitor, Graeme Cattermole, Chairman of the RFU Management Board, and Francis Baron, Chief Executive of the RFU. Still later in the day, the RFU issued a statement saying that, contrary to media speculation, they had not rejected Sir Clive’s letter of resignation because they had not yet received it. Discussions will continue between the parties on Thursday.
However, Sir Clive seems to be rowing back from his position of earlier in the day, declaring as he left the second meeting, ‘As far as I am concerned, I am still England coach’.
Woodward had earlier this week insisted that he would ‘honour his contract’. However, that contract included a one-year notice clause and it is thought that this is what he was referring to.
The media speculation was that Woodward was going to jettison rugby to take up a future bringing his coaching knowledge to soccer.
Woodward has attended three of Southampton’s first four matches this season. The official reason given was that he was studying their youth academy in advance of the RFU opening one of their own in Bath.
However, it has also emerged that Woodward has instigated meetings with high-ranking FA officials Mark Palios, David Davies and Trevor Brooking. A fast-tracking of Woodward through the coaching system would see him have his professional soccer coaching licence within two years.
Putting this together with his self-avowed preference for football from a young age in this month’s Business Life magazine and his previous comments to Wisden Cricketer magazine when he claimed ‘I could easily replicate in cricket what I have done in rugby – or football, or any sport’, it was perhaps understandable that some would put two and two together.
He told Business Life, ‘My whole background is in football. I love football and I go to as many games as I possibly can. I never had that passion for rugby I have for football. I never got into rugby in the same way’.
Woodward’s contract runs until the end of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, with a one year period of notice. The expectation now is that he will see out the Autumn internationals and hand over the reins in the new year.
As to who the new man might be, this whole process has happened so quickly that few names are being advanced at this point. One that springs to mind, though, is Rob Andrew. Andy Robinson is the man currently closest to the England coaching action and should certainly be in the frame.