White Gold: England’s Journey to Rugby World Cup Glory
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White Gold is a study of how and why England, the biggest and wealthiest rugby country on the planet, had never dominated the game it invented on a global scale – until Clive Woodward took charge from 1997 to 2004. It’s a study of his influences and how he turned the way the England team was run, and the way they played, on its head, and it examines how they won despite a domestic structure in England that is counter-intuitive to the success of the international team.
The story also examines the aftermath of the World Cup victory, from the collapse of the team’s fortunes, to the disintegration in the relationship between Woodward and the RFU which led to his resignation, to his disastrous reign as head coach of the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and his unsuccessful period at Southampton football club, before the rehabilitation of his reputation as director of sport of the BOA which culminated in the huge success of the London 2012 Olympics. It is a portrait that has never before been painted of the 2003 World Cup campaign and reveals new insights into the fascinating journey that Woodward and his team enjoyed.
transmitted in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical or photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher. Grateful acknowledgements are made to HarperCollins for extracts from Full Time: The Autobiography by Jason Leonard and Nine Lives: The Autobiography by Matt Dawson; Orion for Richard Hill: The Autobiography and Clive Woodward: The Biography by Alison Kervin; Hodder Headline for It’s in the Blood: The Autobiography by Lawrence
‘I think that was partly because we looked at the fixture and were already focused on playing France in the semi-final. We were up in Brisbane and all week things felt wrong, you could just tell people’s heads weren’t right. And that is the worst part of being a coach because you try all sorts of things to turn it around to make it a good week, to make training better, to change the atmosphere in the camp, but it just wasn’t happening. Training was flat – I put my hands up and say we probably
powerful French team with an otherworldly grace as they blew Ireland away. The French forwards completely dominated their Irish counterparts in the set-piece and in the contact areas, allowing their audaciously talented back-row trio of Betsen, Harinordoquy and Magne to cause complete mayhem in the open spaces. To a casual observer – and even the professional pundit and bookmaker – France, playing so brilliantly, were odds-on favourites to overcome England. In a pre-match press conference,
faced an All Blacks side considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time, and that their challenge was severely hampered by savage injury, there is no escaping the awful humiliation that they suffered in the Test series, losing 3–0 with barely a shot fired in anger. ‘Leading the Lions is an incredible honour but in no way an easy job,’ wrote Woodward in 2013. ‘I have listened to many people’s opinion about the Lions tour I led in 2005, especially concerning my selection. It is always a
attitude had as powerful a psychological impact on the French as it had on the England players. Just as with Sampras, England suddenly looked and seemed fresh and when the whistle blew they tore into Les Bleus. France, who had dismantled the All Blacks in the semi-final of the 1999 World Cup in one of the greatest matches ever played, before losing to Australia in the final, were fielding one of their largest ever packs of forwards – which is really saying something. But England cleverly shifted