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Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Sunday, 9 March 2008

Woodward slams Cipriani decision

Danny Cipriani
Cipriani said he was dropping off tickets to a friend at the club

Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward says current boss Brian Ashton made a "massive error" with his controversial decision to drop Danny Cipriani.

Ashton axed Cipriani from the side to face Scotland after the 20-year-old was pictured leaving a London nightclub in the early hours of Thursday morning.

"It was a massive over-reaction," Woodward told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I think that a lot of those England players will be feeling pretty poor about what happened."

Cipriani was set to make his first Test start at Murrayfield after being named at full-back, but he was dropped after meeting friends at the Number 50 Dover Street club in Mayfair.


England went on to lose 15-9 on Saturday and have been widely criticised for lacking inspiration.

Ashton said Cipriani's behaviour had been "inappropriate for an international rugby player", but Woodward believes the coach missed a chance to form a close bond with his players.

"Cipriani is a highly professional person and someone England should be building their team around," said the 2003 World Cup-winning coach.

"To me he has not done anything wrong. I think they made a massive error there.

"They had a big opportunity to put their arm around him behind closed doors and say 'come on, that was a bit of a daft thing to do' - but no more than that.

"If I dropped every player who had not got to by bed by one o'clock I wouldn't have had anyone in the team.

"When I was in charge, people like Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio were not 'yes men'.

"If they thought one of the team had been hung out to dry that would have caused a lot of problems within the team group so I wouldn't underestimate what that can do to a team environment."

Wasps coach Shaun Edwards and Danny Cipriani
Edwards says Cipriani would not have been punished by Wasps

Rather than playing at Murrayfield, Cipriani started on the bench for Wasps against Harlequins on Sunday, coming on for the final 20 minutes.

Captain Lawrence Dallaglio said afterwards: "Danny is very serious about his rugby. That's why he pays for his own fitness coach, sprint coach and kicking coach.

"We have no issues with Danny and we can move on from that story. England need all their best players at the moment - clearly."

Earlier in the week, Wasps coach Shaun Edwards, who is also the Wales assistant, said Cipriani was used to a much more relaxed coaching regime at Wasps.

"It was his day off before the biggest game of his life and the last thing he wants to be thinking about is his rugby," he told 5 Live.

"I would actually encourage him to go out with his friends and relax.

"Maybe he went out because he's only been used to the environment at Wasps where it would have been absolutely no problem.

"I'm not concerned about England, I'm just sticking up for my friend and player."

Former England player and BBC pundit Matt Dawson said he was "flabbergasted" by Ashton's decision.

"His reputation has been tarnished and Brian Ashton has a lot to answer for," said Dawson.

"It was a fantastic opportunity for him to form a real, hard relationship and friendship with his players but goodness knows what they are thinking now.

"They're going to be fearful about getting chopped from the team."

see also
Scotland 15-9 England
08 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Ashton criticises sloppy England
08 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Ashton defends Cipriani decision
07 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani axed from England team
06 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani warms to full-back role
05 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
England select Cipriani and Croft
04 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Taylor back as Scots change two
04 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Simpson-Daniel gets England call
02 Mar 08 |  English
De Luca ruled out of England game
03 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani should start - Dallaglio
27 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani wants Wilkinson's place
22 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union

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