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Premiership Rugby

Woodward on the ‘spy wars’

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

AT: Mike Catt was taken to hospital yesterday and yet by the evening he was talking to the press? Do a lot of injuries occur in training?

CW: No I think that yesterday was very unusual. You do get injuries in training and Mike just collided with a tackle bag and went down holding his neck and with a neck injury you must take every precaution and within two seconds the medical team were onto him. They didn’t want to move him, and rightly so, we cannot take any risk with neck injuries in training or in a game. We put him in a neck brace, put him on a stretcher and he was taken to hospital and had it all x-rayed and just walked away, that was it. He just caught it wrongly and his neck is a bit sore but he will be ok for the weekend.

AT: The news reached the media very quickly, we know that for twenty minutes the cameras and TV crews are allowed into training but do you think that spying is continuing?

CW: I think that regarding the Mike Catt situation that was interesting, a minute after leaving in an ambulance from the ground there were TV crews trying to get in and watch the training session, these weren’t the rugby crews, these were the normal news broadcast crews. And the doctor said that when they got to hospital there were at least three TV crews waiting for them. I think that the thing that happens, and I am sure that it happens back in the UK, that these crews are picking up conversations between the ambulance crews and can quickly get to the scene of any problem.

Concerning spies at the training sessions, we always allow the crews and photographers in for the first twenty minutes of every training session, we need to work with the camera crews and photographers to make sure that they get the right shots and then they have to go. But all I can say from a coaching point of view is that it would be a huge advantage if you could watch the oppositions training sessions. You just take every precaution that you can, we have a couple of security guards patrolling as far away as possible because a camera can cover from so far away.

You try and choose your training grounds correctly according to the precautions that we can take but at the end of the day if an opposition team really wants to film you at training there is nothing that you can do. It would give you a huge advantage. We try and spot the guys with binoculars but we really hope that it is not going on. You can get awfully paranoid about this, although I don’t worry too much about it now, in fact I never really have done. You take the necessary precautions and believe that you have done everything that you could possibly do and get on with the training sessions. But if someone was watching you, you could lose the whole plot and the team would worry that we are concentrating on the wrong things.

 It’s an issue, it is no more than that but I understand that there was a major spat between the Australians and the Scots, I like reading about it but I hate it when it involves England, I like to keep England off the news pages unless it is about rugby. This issue is between Ian McGeechan and Eddie Jones, he has accused them of spying but whether it is true or not no-one will ever know.

AT: But would you like to know what Wales are planning for England that surely would be an advantage to the way that you would coach and prepare the England team?

CW: Yes it would but we don’t and wouldn’t do it, you don’t need to. Eighty five percent of our coaching is about our play and about what we are trying to do, but if you could get it as a coach it would be very interesting to see how other teams coach and prepare, but you can’t go down that road. There was an incident in the last Lions tour when the Australians reckoned they knew their lineout calls. You could make a massive issue of it but it could cloud what your real role is here, our mindset is very clear we worry about England but it is an issue no more than that.

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