Woodward 'in shock' as Wales beat England
CARDIFF – England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward was "in shock" after the current side saw a seven-point half-time lead evaporate in a 21-13 loss to Wales in Cardiff that dashed their dreams of a Grand Slam.
The visitors, who had thrashed France 44-8 in their previous match were in control, if not out of sight, at 10-3 ahead come the end of the opening 40 minutes in Cardiff on Saturday.
But Wales 'won' the second-half 18-3, with tries from Cory Hill and Josh Adams, who caught replacement Dan Biggar's superb cross-kick two minutes from time, sparking delirious scenes among a capacity crowd at the Principality Stadium.
England are now coached by an Australian in Eddie Jones – the Wallabies' boss when Woodward's men beat them in the 2003 World Cup final – with defence chief John Mitchell, a New Zealander and a former coach of the All Blacks.
"England got turned over partly because every team raises their game against them and they couldn't handle it," wrote Woodward in his Mail on Sunday column.
"I just wonder if the main coaches, an Australian and a New Zealander, have a proper grasp of this. Every team ups it when they play England — you have just got to live with it."
Wales' victory means they are now the only side who, with two rounds remaining, have a shot at the Grand Slam this season.
Turning to their coaching duo of Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards – a New Zealander and an Englishman – Woodward said: "First of all, hats off to Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards, who got a Welsh team firing after two uninspiring wins in the opening rounds and had done their homework on England.
"And hats off to Dan Biggar, who was a superstar when he came on as a replacement in the second half for Wales and everything he touched turned to gold."
Former England and British and Irish Lions centre Woodward added: "I am in shock. England just seemed to stop playing in the second half."
Meanwhile Woodward urged officials to shorten the length of the Six Nations, arguing Saturday's match should have been played a week earlier.
He said this would provide teams with better preparation for the schedules they will face at this year's World Cup in Japan.
"This match should have been played last week though, England should have been hosting Italy this weekend and Scotland the weekend after and the Six Nations should abolish the fallow weeks in the tournament," Woodward insisted.
"If the northern hemisphere teams are really serious about winning the World Cup then the competition should replicate what is going to happen in Japan later this year.
"To win that tournament you have to play every week and having a two-week break is not what the World Cup is all about — they are missing a trick.
"Plus clubs are playing in the Premiership and Pro14 without their top players so I would get it down to five weeks and do it as a block – but commercially it doesn't suit."AFP