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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 08:03 GMT
Woodward's all-American hero
By Alex Trickett

Vince Lombardi
I firmly believe that any man's finest hour is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious
Vince Lombardi
It is no secret that England coach Clive Woodward considers American icon Vince Lombardi one of his biggest inspirations.

Woodward is well versed in "Lombardi speak" - a prominent part of US sporting lexicon.

And for years he has made his World Cup winning players abide by "Lombardi time" - requiring them to be 10 minutes early for meetings.

But, begging forgiveness from our American cousins, who is this Lombardi fellow?

Put simply, he is one of the most important men in American football history and one of the finest coaches in any sport.

Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers from a losing record in 1958 to five NFL championships, also helping them to win the first two Super Bowls in the 1960s.

And he - like Woodward many years after him - attributed his results to discipline and hard work.

LOMBARDI SPEAK
"Winning is not a sometime thing: it's an all-the-time thing"
"Success is like anything worthwhile - it has a price"
"Leaders are made, not born"
"Dancing is a contact sport, football is a hitting sport"
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender"

"There is something good in men that really yearns for discipline," Lombardi once said.

"I've never known a man worth his salt who, in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline."

His players certainly seemed to, channelling their individual skills into a well-drilled team effort to ensure, in the great man's words, that their finest hour came as they lay "exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

When all was said and done, Lombardi and the teams he coached stood apart in gridiron history as the benchmark by which all future franchises would be judged.

And the Super Bowl trophy - arguably the biggest prize in US sport - was duly named for him in 1971, a year after his death at 57 from intestinal cancer.

It is extremely unlikely that the Rugby World Cup will ever be named after Clive Woodward.

Clive Woodward

But the mastermind behind England's 2003 victory does stand some comparison to his American influence.

"Sport is sport and you have to stay focused," he told BBC Radio Five Live after the extra-time win over Australia.

"The minute you think you've cracked it, you finish second. I don't want this to be a small blip in history."

Such far-sighted ambition at a time of unbridled joy hints at Lombardi.

And, crucially, Woodward's charges behaved like a Lombardi team during the World Cup final.

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender," Lombardi would say.

Led by NFL fanatic Martin Johnson, that was certainly true of England in Sydney.

In the face of immense Australian pressure deep into extra-time, it was hard work, discipline and collective will that teed up Jonny Wilkinson for his individual moment of glory.



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