Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward has expressed his concerns over international rugby.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Woodward who led the Red Rose to World Cup glory in 2003, expressed his dismay at the fact that the autumn internationals had lost their importance.
“I am starting to really worry about international rugby. The recent November internationals have become a largely meaningless procession of friendlies- something I never thought I would write.”
The former IRB International Coach of the Year, who also led England to two Six Nations titles and a grand slam, also lamented the lack of excitement he felt during November, with only a couple of matches really grabbing his attention,
“Other than England versus Australia and Scotland’s clash with New Zealand, I failed to get excited about any of the autumn Tests. That should never be the case.”
Woodward also expressed that he felt that the European Cup matches had generated more interest amongst fans than the end of year Tests, in contrast to the past when the autumn Tests created a much bigger buzz.
Citing the decline of Argentina and South Africa’s complex selection policy and the fact that Australia look fatigued and were without talismanic figures such as full-back Israel Folau and openside David Pocock during the autumn, the 61-year-old feels that only world champions New Zealand come to the northern hemisphere with a very strong XV.
Woodward also expresses his belief that the highest echelons of Test rugby are contracting rather than expanding. He believes only a tiny pool of teams are realistically capable of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy, carrying serious consequences for the game.
“Currently it seems only three countries can realistically lay claims to having what it takes to win a World Cup-New Zealand, England and Ireland. That is a disaster for rugby and little different from the Rugby League World Cup.”
But his column wasn’t all doom and gloom as he looked forward to next month’s Six Nations, one in which he feels should be a great championship and a tough one to predict, with any one of the home nations capable of winning.