Clive Woodward’s recent statement beggars belief: “it is an own goal that has handed the Lions a trump card and just emphasises again how modern coaching – aligned with this obsession with `team ethic’ – has sidelined the more maverick characters.”
He should read his own book Winning, and reconsider his objection to a “team ethic” being at the core of a successful team.
Clive, start with page 263. You claim that the turning point in building the English squad to win the 2003 World Cup came at the beginning of 2000 when you saw the wisdom of the Royal Marines advice that you needed “energisers” and couldn’t even afford one “energy sapper”.
When Quade Cooper made his “toxic” statement last year, he was being true to himself.
He was one of the toxic “energy sapping” elements in the Wallabies squad. He had plenty of support from similarly “energy sapping”, “negative” rugby followers in Australia.
For years the Wallabies and Robbie Deans have been subjected to a tirade of criticism from the press and so-called knowledgeable rugby fans on sites such as this.
Even when the Wallabies were reduced by injury to a combination of second and third level players last season, the criticism didn’t let up.
Woodward knows what that feels like, as he led a second string English team on what he calls “The Tour from Hell” and a 76-nil loss to the Wallabies in 1998.
What Deans and the third string Wallabies achieved in the last three games of last year’s Four Nations was proof that a team can succeed when there are no “negative” players left in the squad and they are playing for themselves and each other.
They certainly weren’t playing for the Australian public or media who had written them off and were only waiting for another opportunity to dump on them.
Hopefully the positive culture, the “team ethic” that Clive scorns, remained at the end of the season and has been adopted by each of the Wallabies who returned from injury this season.
If this squad has bought into this positive “team ethic” we should see some exciting rugby in the near future.