Sir Clive Woodward

Coach to the British & Irish Lions and formerly coach to England’s world cup-winning rugby side

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


When I worked at Xerox, I was offered the opportunity to work in Sydney and I decided to go. It was amazing how many people questioned my decision. It was 1985 and I'd just been left out of the England rugby team, but I was playing amateur for Leicester. People couldn't believe I was leaving the rugby, and Leicester. But I'd always wanted to work abroad. My contract was for two years and I stayed nearly five. It was a complete change. I'd go to work via hydrofoil across Sydney harbour. Working abroad really does broaden your horizons. You can feel you're quite experienced in a job, but then when you move to a different culture you learn so much more. I also realised what a great country Britain was when I came back. I eventually set up my own leasing business in Sydney, and then did the same when I returned to the UK. Working abroad gave me a lot of confidence – I'd recommend it to anyone. It takes you out of your comfort zone. It seemed like a big decision at the time, but it should have been a no-brainer.


I was so pleased to be offered the job as first full-time professional England coach in 1997 that I accepted it too quickly. As I got into the job, I realised there were things I was responsible for but which I had little control over, such as fixtures, the way we travelled, where we stayed, the amount of training time. I had to spend the next two years changing things and it held us back, as I spent a lot of time on the politics. Loads of different people had responsibility for things that I'd assume they would pass on to me, but they didn't. I think they just saw me as a coach in a tracksuit with a whistle. You want to work in a no-excuse environment, where you are responsible for everything. Then if you lose, you can look in the mirror and know there was nothing else you could have done. But if you've cut corners and maybe allowed people to do things you should have done, that's when you explode. I loved the job, and that's why I rushed into it. But I think you sometimes want something too much, too quickly, and accept before you dot the i's and cross the t's.

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