RFU left red-faced by Woodward snub

WORLD CUP winning former England boss Sir Clive Woodward has left the Rugby Football Union’s plans to appoint a performance director in disarray after withdrawing his candidacy for the job.

Woodward, who was the clear favourite for a role that has provoked intense debate in recent weeks, released a statement yesterday ruling himself out of the running and committing himself to his current role with the British Olympic Association.

“In order to prevent any further speculation and in the interests of both the BOA and RFU I would like to formally confirm that I will not be attending any interviews for this position,” he said.

“I am totally committed to my role as director of sport at the BOA and deputy chef de mission for Team GB in London 2012. May I wish the RFU all the best in its search to find the appropriate candidate for this very important role for English rugby going forward.”

Woodward’s withdrawal came after former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio told City A.M. that his former coach’s continued interest in the role, despite indecision from the RFU, was “positive news for English rugby”.

The episode will be seen as embarrassing to the RFU, after the governing body changed its own job description twice in a matter of days last week. Having initially announced the role would involve supervising the senior England set-up, the governing body significantly diluted its responsibility in a move that would have deterred someone of Woodward’s calibre. But following internal ructions the job’s original remit was reinstated, reopening the door for Woodward – until yesterday.

Woodward confirmed he had informally discussed a return to rugby union with the RFU, but emphasised he had kept the BOA informed.

It is a welcome boost for the BOA, who were embroiled earlier this year in a bitter and lengthy row over Olympic cash with Locog, the organisers of the London 2012 Games.