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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Best of enemies: Eddie and Clive
By Bryn Palmer

Australia coach Eddie Jones and England coach Sir Clive Woodward
Jones (left) has yet to emerge victorious against Woodward
The ceasefire couldn't last. And sure enough, seven months after a bizarre truce before the World Cup final, it is open warfare again.

Eddie Jones and Sir Clive Woodward have a long history in the pre-match jousting that now routinely accompanies Australia-England clashes.

The surprise in Sydney last November was that both of them resisted the temptation to throw a few barbed comments in each other's direction.

Woodward praised Australia's semi-final victory over the All Blacks to the hilt, lauding their first-half display as "the best 40 minutes of rugby at the tournament".

Jones responded in kind, calling Woodward an "exceptional coach" and England the "the model side".

But fortunately, for seasoned observers of the Eddie and Clive double act, normal service has been resumed.

Woodward got his retaliation in first this week, suggesting that given England's well-documented list of retirements and absentees, Australia might have their best chance of beating the world champions "for a long, long time".

Either you engage in the media contest, or you don't
Eddie Jones
"Probably Eddie Jones has never had a better chance of beating England," Woodward conceded, before adding mischievously: "He hasn't succeeded yet".

Jones, you see, has yet to taste victory over England as Wallabies coach.

Two narrow defeats at Twickenham - in 2001 and 2002 - were followed by a comparative mauling in Melbourne last June, and that extra-time epic in last year's World Cup final.

But with England more vulnerable than at any time in the past four years, little wonder Jones is trying to ensure a Wallabies victory on Saturday is not dismissed as mere end-of-season fatigue on the part of Woodward's men.

"No-one was complaining in June last year when they came out and beat New Zealand and Australia," he noted.

"There wasn't any signs of tiredness then. Why are they tired now?"

Woodward might have been tempted to respond that the physical and mental reserves required to finally put down the Wallabies in Sydney might have had something to do with it.

But that would probably be a little too obvious.

The pair's relationship of mutual antagonism flared when Jones questioned Woodward's decision to draft rugby league convert Henry Paul straight into the England set-up back in 2001.

"Our guys have to earn a Wallaby jumper," Jones said. "England obviously have a different selection policy."

Woodward's retort? To question whether Jones had the "balls" to utilise his own cross-code stars Mat Rogers and Wendell Sailor with immediate effect.

Their first meeting at Twickenham three years ago set the tone for those that followed.

Eddie Jones looks on during last year's World Cup final
Jones was on the wrong end again during last year's World Cup final
After England had triumphed 21-15, Woodward labelled the Wallabies "very predictable", accusing them of "the old Eddie Jones trick of having decoy runners in front of the ball carrier."

The decoy runners debate has remained a recurring one ever since, with Woodward even producing a video to highlight Australia's tactics.

The move produced one of Jones' more memorable barbs, when he was asked if he had had a chance to meet with match referee Paul Honiss.

"No. Apparently he is still looking at Clive's videos," he quipped.

Jones freely admits to using the media to highlight issues and try to unsettle opponents, referees and coaches.

"Either you engage in the media contest, or you don't," he once said. "Like it or not, it's part of the rugby landscape."

In Woodward, who Australians love to portray as "arrogant", the quick-witted, streetwise Jones has found an opponent happy to give as good as he gets.

"It's a bit of fun isn't it?" Jones said at the World Cup.

Woodward also admits to being more amused than annoyed by the pot-shots aimed at him whenever he sets foot in Australia.

With both happily renewing the sparring this week, Eddie and Clive are set to remain best of enemies for some time yet.


SEE ALSO
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