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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 03:28 GMT 04:28 UK
Woodward quits England
Clive Woodward
It was clear to me that when we came back from the World Cup I felt totally out of control
Sir Clive Woodward on why he has quit England
Sir Clive Woodward's seven-year reign as England coach has ended after the Rugby Football Union accepted his resignation after two days of talks.

Woodward wanted to stay on for the autumn internationals but the RFU decided he should leave immediately.

"It was agreed that it would make for a smoother transition of coaching and management responsibility if I withdrew with immediate effect," said Woodward.

Andy Robinson has been named acting head coach for the November Tests.

Robinson will take over on an interim basis starting on Monday for the period leading up to and including matches against Canada, South Africa and Australia.

Woodward, who outlined his reasons for leaving in a news conference on Friday, issued a brief statement confirming his resignation and offering his "full support" to Robinson, who has indicated he will seek the job on a permanent basis.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron admitted the Union was keen for Woodward to stay on and oversee England's attempt to defend the World Cup.

"I am personally disappointed that he has decided to leave his post as I and the RFU would have liked him to have stayed on in that role until the end of 2007 World Cup," Baron said.

But he paid tribute to Woodward's achievements since taking over in September 1997.

"Clive has done an outstanding job for England and the Union," Baron added. "I'm sure that Clive will have success in any challenges that he may now decide to accept."

Woodward had a contract that ran until 2007 with a one-year notice period.

But his early exit will allow him to concentrate on next summer's Lions tour to New Zealand, for which he has been named head coach, before completing a switch to football.

Woodward has been linked with a director of football role at Southampton, with his involvement discussed at a Saints board meeting on Thursday.

Lions chief executive John Feehan suggested Woodward's involvement with the Lions may be compromised if he were to take another job before the start of next season.

Sir Clive Woodward, here with Saints chairman Rupert Lowe, attended Chelsea's 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday

"If something came up which interfered with (his) ability to do his job with the Lions properly, we would have to consider it," Feehan said.

But Woodward, who is a personal friend of Lowe's and has watched several games alongside him recently, has freely admitted his passion for the round-ball game.

"My whole background is in football," he told this month's Business Life magazine.

"I love football and I go to as many games as I possibly can. I never had that passion for rugby I have for football."

Regardless of his future intentions, the departure of the man who oversaw England's World Cup triumph in Australia last November is a huge blow to English rugby.

He makes his exit just two days after captain Lawrence Dallaglio announced his retirement from Test rugby, citing a punishing, year-round schedule.

Woodward is believed to have lost patience over the lack of time available with his players for England training, with reports suggesting his relationships with senior figures within the RFU and the club structure are beyond repair.

Since taking over in 1997, Woodward was credited with giving the England set-up an overhaul on and off the pitch with his professionalism and motivational skills.

He appointed Martin Johnson as captain in 1999, but his team lost to South Africa in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Four years later, however, came the crowning glory, when England beat Australia 20-17 to lift the Webb Ellis trophy.

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