Razor: 'The guy' England need says Woodward
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward has endorsed a New Zealand coach as a potential successor to Eddie Jones in the English top job.
Jones is under mounting pressure after he guided England to a fifth-place finish in the Six Nations, the second time they have finished so lowly in the competition under Jones’ stewardship.
As a result, the 61-year-old Australian’s position as England head coach is under review from the Rugby Football Union [RFU], leading to plenty of speculation about his future in the job and who could overtake him in that position.
One of the many names that has garnered a lot of attention in the race to replace Jones is Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson.
The former All Blacks loose forward looks primed to lead the Christchurch-based franchise to their fifth consecutive title this year as they currently top the Super Rugby Aotearoa table by eight points at the competition’s halfway stage.
That would follow a remarkable run of success that has seen Robertson clinch a hat-trick of Super Rugby crowns and the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearoa championship in his only four years in charge of the Crusaders.
Prior to that, the 46-year-old led the New Zealand U20 side to a World Rugby U20 Championship in 2015 and guided Canterbury to eight titles in nine seasons as either a head or assistant coach between 2008 and 2016.
With such a proven track record, it came to the surprise of many that Robertson missed out on the All Blacks head coach role at the end of 2019.
Instead, current boss Ian Foster took over from Sir Steve Hansen following their failed World Cup campaign two years ago, leaving Robertson to continue to work his magic with the Crusaders.
Many see Robertson as the likely successor to Foster, whose All Blacks contract expires at the end of this year, but, with RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney refusing to rule out a coaching change, England could leapfrog New Zealand for Robertson’s services.
Such a prospect has already received praise from corners of the English media, with The Telegraph pinpointing Robertson as a top target should the England job be vacated by Jones.
That sentiment has been echoed by Woodward, who told Newstalk ZB that he would have “no qualms at all” should Robertson be appointed as England head coach.
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“This guy Robertson I don’t know, but crikey I just get a really good feeling about him,” Woodward, who coached England to the 2003 World Cup title, said.
“Clearly, he’s a winner, he’s successful, he’s very good with people. Would I like to play for him? Yes, without even knowing him, just from seeing the way his team plays. That would be really interesting on so many fronts.”
Robertson isn’t the only Kiwi coach who has been linked to the England role, as British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has also been name-dropped as a potential candidate to take over at Twickenham.
Gatland signed a four-year deal with the Chiefs ahead of the 2020 season and is currently on sabbatical while he prepares to lead the Lions to South Africa later this year.
However, the 57-year-old’s Chiefs contract hasn’t stopped some outlets from linking the former Wales and Ireland boss – who won four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and appeared in two World Cup semi-finals with Wales – with the English position.
With the British and Irish Lions, Gatland registered a series win over the Wallabies in 2013 and drew with the All Blacks four years later.