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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Flak flies but Woodward defiant
Sir Clive Woodward
Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward has given a staunch defence of the way he has run the 2005 tour of New Zealand.

Woodward came under fire for naming a large squad even before the Lions were crushed 3-0 by the All Blacks.

But he told Radio Five Live on Sunday: "I wouldn't change much but when they come here in 12 years time, I would say take more players and play more games.

"Every game out here is tough and we have run out of players. I would make the Lions bigger and better."

Woodward selected an original 45-man squad for the tour but saw that number inflate to 51 following a series of injuries.

But critics have claimed that the sheer number of players, combined with Woodward's insistence that everyone should get game time, meant that the Test team had little chance to gel.

"The people who say we took too many players are totally wrong, they have to look at what has happened," said Woodward.

"Because we are in New Zealand you just can't fly in someone and play them, they need to be here at least week.

"If you take less players there's going to be more injuries and you are going to run out of players, which we did even with 45 players."

Woodward also took 26-backroom staff to New Zealand, the largest management and coaching line-up in Lions history.

But the former England coach says that decision was also necessary, insisting: "The backroom staff have looked after the players very well, that's why we have had no problems off the pitch

"It's been a very professional tour. Most of the people criticising are from the amateur era and the game has changed."

Gavin Henson (left) and Sir Clive Woodward
This photo of Henson and Woodward has caused a stir

One of the most controversial appointments was that of Alastair Campbell, the former government communications chief, as the Lions media consultant.

Campbell's role in the storm that followed Tana Umaga's tackle was heavily criticised by New Zealand coach Graham Henry.

There have also been claims that he staged a photograph of Gavin Henson and Woodward without the player's knowledge following the Welshman's shock omission from the first Test squad.

"Alastair has been outstanding, I just think people don't like change," said Woodward.

It's not a case of getting over it. You are a professional coach and you win or lose and you move on quickly
Sir Clive Woodward

"The way he has got on with the players and all he has done for them has been brilliant and the media has missed an opportunity with him.

"If they had spoken to him, he would have given them ideas of how they could have written some more creative stuff in terms of following the team around and how we are operating.

"That's why I brought him along, to try and move everything with the media to a whole new level, but unfortunately the media have not taken up that challenge."

Woodward is going on a fishing holiday on his return from New Zealand.

He is then expected to take up a senior management role with Southampton football club.

But he says he is determined to take positive memories from his last involvement with rugby union for the foreseeable future.

"The Lions ethos and concept is still intact all the players have been fantastic and huge ambassadors for the game," he said.

"It's been a great trip and we have made lot of friends, but we all know that you get judged on results in the Test matches so I have to accept that and all the barbs that come with it.

"It's not a case of getting over it. You are a professional coach and you win or lose and you move on quickly.

"I have no issues with what has happened over here. You have just got to take a balanced view and keep everything in perspective."

Interview: Sir Clive Woodward on Sportsweek



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