World Rugby

Jones Unveils Woodward Feud: Personal Grievances And Coaching Betrayals

Jones Unveils Woodward Feud: Personal Grievances And Coaching Betrayals

Eddie Jones opens up about his enduring feud with Clive Woodward, revealing personal clashes and behind-the-scenes maneuvers in a candid podcast discussion.

Nov 21, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Jones Unveils Woodward Feud: Personal Grievances And Coaching Betrayals

The coaching realm is no stranger to disputes, but few have persisted as long, and remained as personal, as the feud between Eddie Jones and Sir Clive Woodward. 

Though Jones no longer is at the helm of the England rugby team, the embers of this multi-decade war continue to glow, recently reignited by Jones himself in a candid discussion on James Graham’s The Bye Round Podcast. 

The origins of this rivalry date back to the early 2000s, when Woodward led England, and Jones took the reins of the Australian team. 

The pinnacle of their initial clash occurred in the 2003 World Cup final, where Woodward's England triumphed over Jones' Australia. However, the narrative shifted in 2016, when Jones assumed control of the England squad. 

As the latter part of his tenure unfolded amid challenges from 2020 to 2022, Woodward, now a pundit, emerged as one of Jones' most vocal critics. 

In the world of sports coaching, disagreements are commonplace, but they often fade away over time. Yet, as Jones revealed in his podcast appearance, his dispute with Woodward goes beyond the customary banter and holds a deeply personal dimension. 

“You’ve got to be forthright with what you think,” Jones remarked on the podcast. “He hasn’t coached since 2005, and he’s the ‘world’s best coach.’ You’re the world’s best coach when you don’t coach. What’s the old thing, the man in the arena?" 

Jones delved into the heart of the matter, revealing that the root of the animosity lies in Woodward's desire to be the director of rugby in England. According to Jones, Woodward harbored aspirations for this role, and after the 2019 World Cup, he allegedly launched a covert internal campaign with the RFU to secure the position, all behind Jones's back. 

The Australian coach perceived this maneuver as sneaky and deceitful, leading to a rupture in their professional relationship. 

Reflecting on Woodward's actions, Jones expressed his disdain, stating, “Every time since, if he says something, I really don’t value his thoughts at all, and I don’t like him as a bloke. Because he was so deceitful." 

Jones accused Woodward of making it personal by engaging in clandestine activities behind the scenes. 

Despite denials from Woodward, Jones maintained his stance, finding such behavior disheartening. He expressed a hope not to become a pundit who, post-coaching, presumes to know everything with the benefit of hindsight. 

While the public sparring between Jones and Woodward may have quieted with Jones's exit from the coaching spotlight, it's evident that the embers of this enduring rivalry still burn. 

The personal nature of their feud and the lingering sense of betrayal ensure that, even in the absence of coaching duties, the animosity endures between these two rugby giants.