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Clive Woodward update – Zurich World Champions Challenge

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Zurich Update with Clive Woodward on the Zurich World Champions ChallengeFor www.zurichpremiership.comPennyhill Park (pre-press conference)

Andrew Titheridge: Clive have your feet touched the ground yet since that incredible victory?

Clive Woodward: Yes my feet are firmly on the ground, I think that we have really enjoyed it and it is something that I will never, ever forget, being in the stadium and being on that platform with Martin Johnson when he received the trophy. The sheer energy of the players and generally the whole feeling in the stadium is something that I will not forget. The support has been wonderful, not only in Sydney but when we arrived in Heathrow, the parade and wherever we go we are getting standing ovations. It has been fantastic and one of the strengths of the team is that they are very level headed and their feet are very firmly on the ground, and at the moment we are enjoying everything that goes with it. This is what we do, these are our jobs, this is not a complete one off, this is how we earn our living. We are keen on winning and once January 1st comes round I will totally and utterly switch back to rugby mode. We won the World Cup and on January 1st that will totally and utterly be history and I will concentrate on our next game.

AT: I was privileged to be on the open topped bus and the players were visibly moved by the amount of numbers of people who turned out for that parade, rugby has really now come of age, hasn’t it?

CW: I think that it has been coming of age for a long time. That attitude I think sums up the players, we all knew this parade was taking place but none of us had given it much thought. We were told to be at Twickenham at a certain time and we had a police escort into town, we had a cup of coffee and got on the bus. Then we were just hit by this incredible scene and since none of us had thought about it and because our feet were firmly on the floor it was just a parade that we were going to enjoy, including Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. They say it was 750,000 but it looked like more than 1.5 million and I spoke to some of the players since then and it is a memory that they will never, ever forget. I must say just a massive thanks to everyone who turned out but as I said we have just got to enjoy it and keep our feet firmly on the ground. This is what we do for a living, this is our career, these are our jobs. Enjoy the moment, it will soon pass and we will be looking forward to Six Nations and test match rugby again.

AT: Shouldn’t you retire now Clive after everything that you have done?

CW: I don’t think that I have done everything at all. We have won the World Cup and that is fantastic, I have also been working with a fantastic group of people. I have to mention the RFU and the Zurich Premiership clubs and the owners of the clubs, England have won the World Cup because we arrived as favourites, our preparation was excellent and I have enjoyed this really good partnership with the clubs but we have really got to keep working, people have got to understand why we won the World Cup, we didn’t win it because of any individual player or groups of players, it is a whole team of people right down to the clubs which allowed us the opportunity of being successful. So I have got a lot of work to do but this is what I do for a living and I feel very, very lucky because I enjoy it. To see an Englishman lift the World Cup was fantastic and now I want to see another Englishman lift it but it is going to be double the challenge because the rest of the world are not happy with England winning the World Cup. We have now got to up it again and we will just come back in January and get back into our game by game mode and I am really looking forward to it.

AT: The game on Saturday – originally people said that this was a game too far, but now with England winning the World Cup it is a great day of celebration but you haven’t selected the whole World Cup squad, why is that?

CW: I was never going to, there is an awful lot of stuff in the media about this, luckily the media don’t select the side, I do! I was never going to pick the World Cup team. We were clearly told by the IRB not to select a full strength England team, so we could not field the World Cup winning England team. This is an invitation side, it is England against the New Zealand Barbarians and for me I wanted to prioritise the people who were in the World Cup squad and who hadn’t been in the 22. And I spoke to Martin Johnson at length about this and it was far more important for me to play Grewcock and Shaw, than Johnson and Kay because they were just as important to England winning the World Cup so hence Worsley will play, Shaw will play, Gomarsall will play. So I left Martin Johnson out and the other senior players all of whom had a superb World Cup. I didn’t want to play Lawrence, Back and Greenwood but they have all had a fantastic World Cup. I want to use the game to move the team forward. To me it could be a waste of a weekend not to do this and I don’t particularly like celebration matches so for me to take Simpson-Daniel, Ollie Smith, Charlie Hodgson, Sheridan and Stevens was a huge opportunity and I wasn’t going to waste the game. The important thing for me is that all 31 players involved in the World Cup will be there at the final whistle and that is when we can celebrate the World Cup. When I announce the team for Saturday it will be an awesome looking side and as good as the side that won the World Cup. I want to move this team forward and I want players who are really excited about playing this weekend rather than players thinking that this is a friendly game after the World Cup.



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