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  Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Woodward: Henry not to blame
Clive Woodward critcised the Lions management
Clive Woodward critcised the Lions management
England rugby manager Clive Woodward says he stands by the comments he made in a controversial e-mail.

But he insists he does not blame Graham Henry for the Lions' defeat in Australia.

In his statement issued to various agents and selected journalists, Woodward accused the Lions coaching team of not setting the correct example to their players.

The latest clash of words is certain to inflame what is already seen as a rift between Woodward and Henry over the New Zealander's appointment as Lions coach for the trip down under.


Players should play, writers should write and the Lions should be on the sports channels, not the movie channels.
Clive Woodward

But Woodward insists he is not pointing the finger at Henry for the failure to defeat the world champions.

"I am totally supportive of Graham," he said. "Just from what the players are saying, it is clear there have been mistakes.

"But what I am asking for is the England players to back off when they think about criticising.

"Graham Henry has done his best, so why don't they leave him alone?

Matt Dawson was slammed for his article critcising the management
Matt Dawson was slammed for his article critcising the management

"I wish more people would follow the Martin Johnson approach and look at themselves in the mirror a bit more rather than blaming other people."

Almost as soon as they touched down, rumours began to sweep across the Pacific that the Lions camp was splitting disastrously.

And the suggestion quickly became fact when Matt Dawson's newspaper column was published on the eve of the first Test in Brisbane.

In it he claimed the Lions coaching staff were treating the squad "like children" and many players were dissatisfied with the tough training regimes.

Austin Healey gave Australia a self-made team-talk before the third Test
Austin Healey gave Australia a self-made team-talk before the third Test

Woodward was alarmed at what his scrum-half had written and was even more shocked when Austin Healey publicly ridiculed Australia debutant lock Justin Harrison ahead of the third Test.

Wallabies skipper John Eales has admitted the article was a major motivational tool in Australia's 29-23 series-clinching win in Sydney.

Healey is threatening more revelations in his autobiography, which is due to be published in October.

But having decided that crass mistakes on Lions trips should not affect England selection, Woodward is sure to warn the unpredictable Leicester star that any repeat will result in instant banishment.

"The 'handshake' agreement I have with the England team is very simple," he said.

"Players can write books, papers and websites as long as no one within the whole set-up will take offence.

"Only one player has let me down - Healey's Leicester team-mate Richard Cockerill - and that was down to stupidity more than anything else.

"But that player has never even been back to a training session. I really hope this issue will be a watershed in all this.

"Players should play, writers should write and the Lions should be on the sports channels, not the movie channels."

Banished

Had Woodward been in charge of the Lions trip, Dawson and Healey would have instantly been despatched home.

Privately, the England chief now believes he will have to defend both players against a Rugby Football Union demand for sanctions against them.

He does however feel that clear prospective punishments were not laid down before departure, which would have left players in little doubt of what sanctions would be meted out.

"If Matt or Austin had done this in the England set-up, they could only expect one result," he said.

"What happens away from the public eye must always remain away from the public eye.

"But the highest standards have not been put forward by the Lions management from the start of the trip.

"They have not set the right examples themselves, so how can you expect the players to follow?"


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