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Sir Clive Woodward eager to take RFU job after John Steele sacking

Sir Clive Woodward has indicated he would return to Twickenham immediately, despite the turmoil which has engulfed English rugby in recent weeks.

Woodward has told friends that a role heading up the elite performance side of the Rugby Football Union is one he still covets and that he would not need to wait for the appointment of a new chief executive following John Steele’s dismissal.

Woodward’s way back into rugby will not be blocked by the British Olympic Association where he is currently employed as deputy chef de mission of the British team for the London Olympics. It is believed that Lord Moynihan and Andy Hunt, the BOA chairman and chief executive, would not seek to enforce a contract and prohibit Woodward from making the move.

Woodward has told friends that he remains passionate about rugby and elite performance and believes he can get the skill-sets of English players to match those of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, the three leading rugby nations.

“If someone from the RFU came to Clive and offered him a massive job tomorrow, he would consider it,” a source close to Woodward said.

“He feels an obligation to the Olympics because he wants to see it through, but if a big job came up it would be very attractive to him. He pulled out of the race on May 19 only because he believed he was getting stitched up.”

Woodward was due to give a presentation to RFU chief executive John Steele on the role of performance director on March 17 only for Steele to cancel the interview.

Steele later downgraded the job, removing the senior England team from the remit, a move which persuaded Woodward to pull out and pledge his allegiance to the BOA.

However, with Steele out of the picture, Woodward’s interest has been rekindled on the condition that any portfolio would include Martin Johnson’s senior team.

“Clive has no interest in returning to coaching or on taking on a front-line role, but he does feel that it makes sense for Johnson to report to someone on the rugby side, rather than a chief executive who may not have the appropriate skills.”

Woodward still retains a great deal of support at Twickenham.

“I am not happy about the way Clive was treated,” RFU chairman and acting chief executive Martyn Thomas said on Friday. “He’s the only guy to have won a World Cup for England and I have a lot of respect for the man.”

Woodward’s return is unlikely to be fast-tracked. Thomas has told Johnson and his senior coaches that, following the collapse of the appointment process and Steele’s dismissal, nothing would be put in place to jeopardise preparations for the World Cup which starts in New Zealand in September.

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