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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 July, 2005, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Woodward claims tour a 'success'
Sir Clive Woodward reflects on the 3-0 series defeat
Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward says the tour to New Zealand has been a success despite the 3-0 series whitewash.

The tour ended with the 38-19 loss in the third Test but Woodward said: "This is a fantastic group of players.

"We gave everything but New Zealand's skill levels are above ours and I think the better team won in the end.

"We are disappointed - we came out to win the Test series so we have failed. It's actually been a successful tour, and has been great experience."

Woodward admitted that coaching the 2005 Lions was the toughest challenge of his career and hinted he would probably not want to take the job for the 2009 tour to South Africa.

"The Lions are very special. We've tried to uphold Lions traditions but the game has moved on and we were up against the best side in the world," he added.

"It's hard when you pick up the injuries we did, including some big names.

"Getting a team together so quickly has been difficult and it has been difficult to get momentum going on this tour.

We will have to look at ourselves, we gave away too many penalties
Tana Umaga

"This has been one of the most challenging things I've done and I'd like to see how the next guy does it. I will sit down with whoever takes over and give them my views.

"The Lions are different. It's not like coaching a national team when you can build things and build things, you have to try and do something special in a few weeks.

"There are not many things I would change. We've lost, and I accept that.

"I have had my go at it. The biggest thing I've had to learn is to start with the Test side from day one. I'd also try and squeeze a few more games in."

Woodward and his coaches have come in for widespread criticism on this tour as the Lions failed to hit top form.

But the World Cup-winning coach defended the backroom staff saying: "I chose the top six coaches from Britain and Ireland that were available and we did everything we could.

"They were top class, we just couldn't get it going. But I'm in charge so I'll shoulder the responsibility for losing."

Lions skipper Gareth Thomas praised the players for refusing to give in during the series.

"It's been a difficult series for the guys. I've been proud to play with them and stand by them because we never gave up at any point in the series," he said.

"The commitment on this tour has been great but we haven't had the amount of preparation Clive wanted or enough time together.

"We're not making any excuses because the All Blacks deserved to win."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Lions head coach Sir Clive Woodward


Post-match reaction: Josh Lewsey, Lewis Moody, Stephen Jones & Justin Marshall


Interview: Lions' Paul O'Connell



LIONS TOUR 2005

ALL BLACKS WHITEWASH LIONS




VOTE RESULTS
What was the main reason for the Lions' whitewash in NZ?
All Blacks just too good
58%
Woodward's selections
30%
Injuries to key players
6%
Squad was too big
6%
97190 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed




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