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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 14:20 GMT

Sport: Rugby Union

Woodward stays in England role

England lost crunch matches against the All Blacks and South Africa

Clive Woodward says he will see out his contract as England coach, despite the national side's worst Rugby World Cup performance since 1987.

Speaking publically for the first time since England's quarter-final exit to South Africa, Woodward announced that he will complete his three-year term in the job, ending next August.

'Total confidence'

"It is up to other people to judge me, but I am sure that these fellows (the Rugby Football Union) wouldn't keep me employed if I didn't have value," he said.

Woodward received the immediate backing of the Club England committee chairman Fran Cotton.

[ image: Clive Woodward:
Clive Woodward: "It is up to other people to judge me"
"Clive has the total confidence of his players, which has not always been the case in the past, and has a vision of how he wants to play the game which the only way England can put themselves in a position to beat the big southern hemisphere countries," he said.

During his first two years in the job, Woodward repeatedly urged the public and media to judge him on England's performance in the World Cup.

He admitted in Tuesday's news conference that his side's failure to progress to the last four for the first time since the inaugural competition had come as a shock.

"I genuinely believed that we had a genuine chance of winning the World Cup, and we arrived at the tournament with a lot of optimism," he said.

"For the last two years, everything had been geared towards the World Cup, making sure that we arrived with a powerful and fit team.

'Something special'

"When we played America during one of the World Cup warm up games, it was a performance based on power and wit, and the players played with their heads up - it was fantastic.

"At that stage, I started to get excited that we could do something special in the World Cup."

Woodward's failure has been somewhat mitigated by England's battling loss in the group stage to tournament favourites New Zealand.

And his side's eventual exit was largely down to an unprecedented five drop goals from Springbok fly-half Jannie de Beer.

Nonetheless, there was a precedent for high profile resignations following World Cup failures. All Black coach John Hart stepped down after New Zealand's stunning loss to France in the semi-finals and a disconsolate defeat to South Africa in their third place play-off.

Woodward said that the French victory had heightened his distress over England's early exit.

"When I saw what France did to New Zealand, it nearly sent me over the top," he said.

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