Friday 22 November 2019

Woodward linked to France coaching role

Clive Woodward has a
Clive Woodward has a "burning desire" to return to Test match coaching, according to sources close to the French Rugby Federation

Nick Purewal

Clive Woodward has a "burning desire" to return to Test match coaching, according to sources close to the French Rugby Federation.

French rugby chiefs have refused to be drawn publicly on Woodward's candidacy, but the ex-Leicester centre is believed to have been interviewed for the head coaching job last month.

Sources in France claim Woodward is keen to make a Test coaching comeback, but representatives of the former England boss denied he is chasing the Les Blues post.

"Clive Woodward met with FFR officials and explained to them just how much he wants to come back to full-time coaching," a source close to France's set-up said.

"He told them he has a burning desire to come back and show what he can do, and he asked to be considered seriously for the role.

"It seems that Clive initiated contact, but as a result the decision-makers wasted little time in organising a meeting."

Former France hooker Raphael Ibanez is the front-runner to replace ex-Toulon and Sale boss Philippe Saint-Andre, who has come under fire for a shabby record and pragmatic playing style.

Toulouse's highly-decorated boss Guy Noves was expected to be interviewed for the role at France's Marcoussis headquarters yesterday.

Former Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie now appears an outsider, with French bosses viewing him as too complex a character.

Grenoble's Fabrice Landreau has also been included in deliberations, though Bordeaux-Begles boss Ibanez is still the front-runner and would be keen to take his club defence coach and ex-England flanker Joe Worsley with him.

Current Les Bleus boss Saint-Andre has won just 15 out of his 37 Tests in control, and has received constant flak for abandoning France's traditional free-spirited attacking style.

Woodward coached England from 1997 to 2004, guiding Martin Johnson and co to the 2003 World Cup title in Australia.

After leaving his post in 2004 he led the Lions - captained by Brian O'Driscoll - to a Test-whitewash tour in New Zealand.

Woodward then joined the British Olympic Association, remaining with the organisation until shortly after the London 2012 Olympics.

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