Sir Clive Woodward will be remembered as the England coach for the team that won the Rugby world cup in 2002. He is now a commentator for the BBC. I was particularly interested to learn insights from the thinking of a successful sporting leader. I found that over the last two weeks of rugby, he shared the human tendency to avoid challenging the reliability of his prior opinions in light of additional evidence.
Prior to the England Italy game
“It would be good for England to score five tries to put them in the right spirit for the game against Wales [the title decider, the following week]“
After the England Italy game
“The way they played against Italy is just the wake-up call to prepare them against Wales”
Before the Wales England game
“It will be tight but England should shade it.”
After the Wales England game [which Wales won 30-3]
“England will learn a lot from this defeat”
The next day
After the match, Sir Clive seemed to have had a spell of amnesia regarding his early remarks, telling the BBC
“The rest of the world would have taken notice of that, the bubble has been burst and teams would have seen who they [England] are and what they have to do to beat them.”
One English commentator pre-match had made a different assessment to Sir Clive in an article “Here’s why the whole of Wales and Scotland and Ireland want to see England humiliated”. It’s worth reading in full, to capture some of the dimensions of the “Arrogant English” charge leveled at its Rugby establishment.
More typical was the view expressed by another former England international, Mike Tindall, in his balanced analysis of why “England must be ready to face Cardiff’s cauldron of hate”
“England are by far the best team in the Six Nations. The most important thing about them is their base game. It’s of the highest standard and that will always keep you in a game.”
Image is from barryjphillips blogspot . Barry wrote a positive review of Sir Clive Woodward’s book Winning, saying he would like to deliver a pass to a rugby playing friend, but decided to retain possession.