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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September, 2004, 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK
Woodward clear for Lions
Sir Clive Woodward
Woodward has not yet signed a contract with the Lions
Sir Clive Woodward will lead the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand next summer following a meeting of the Lions committee in Dublin on Tuesday.

Woodward's position was cast into doubt after his decision to resign the England coach's job and his interest in moving into football management.

He insisted he would not take another job until after the Lions tour and the committee has endorsed his position.

The Lions play 11 matches, including three Tests, on the trip.

My complete focus is the Lions for the next nine months - there are no distractions either from within rugby or outside it
Sir Clive Woodward

Bill Beaumont, tour manager and chairman of the Lions committee said: "We thought it important to meet with Clive and the other members of the committee following the events of last week.

"This we have done and, and the committee continues to be fully committed to the appointment made earlier this year. Clive is the most qualified man to coach the Lions and will be taking the squad to New Zealand next summer.

"He has assured not only myself on a number of occasions but again this evening to the committee that his commitment to the Lions is absolute."

Welsh Rugby Union representative David Pickering had been one member of the committee to voice doubts about Woodward after his acrimonious exit from the England job.

But after Tuesday's clear-the-air meeting, Pickering said: "The key objective for the Lions is to win in the tough rugby environment that is New Zealand, to that end we need to make sure that there is the strongest coaching and management team in place.

"No-one can question Clive's achievements in rugby and the experience he will bring to the Lions position."

Woodward himself said: "My complete focus is the Lions for the next nine months. There are no distractions either from within rugby or outside it.

"I am totally committed to the task of planning and delivering a programme that provides the players with the best possible chance of winning in New Zealand."

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