Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward has launched a scathing attack on the RFU and chief executive Ian Ritchie for their poor handling of the aftermath to their recent failed home World Cup campaign.

Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, Woodward said England will never win another World Cup if the RFU can't improve relations with English clubs, and slammed the national body for leading a shoddy World Cup review and overlooking talented home-grown coaches in favour of former Japan and Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.

Woodward was also critical of the poorly timed and bungling manner in which the the RFU and Ritchie went about securing Jones' trio of assistants - Steve Borthwick, Paul Gustard and Alex King - from their respective club coaching roles with Saracens, Northampton and Bristol.

"I was so disappointed with how the RFU acted in the aftermath of the World Cup," said Woodward.


"There is a right way to go about recruiting individuals and Ritchie, whose responsibility it is to handle negotiations, has missed another great opportunity to start life after the World Cup on the right foot.

"Ritchie has been acting like a head coach, not a chief executive."

With clubs approaching the middle of the Premiership and the European Champions Cup season, Woodward says they have the right to feel aggrieved at the RFU poaching key members of their staff.

Keeping club owners onside should be a priority, he says, if the RFU want to ensure Jones' side are best positioned to make a genuine tilt at the 2019 World Cup.

"The clubs should be reaping the rewards of a nation inspired by the World Cup, but they are being forced to pay the price for England's failure and putting Stuart Lancaster in charge without the c.v. to justify his appointment," he said.

"There is never a good time to lose valuable members of your coaching teams but what the RFU continually fail to understand is that England will never win a World Cup again - and I mean never - unless there is a genuine partnership and cohesion between club and country.

"Jones will need top club coaches on board - and the co-operation of the owners - if we want to arrive at the next World Cup as serious contenders, rather than with fingers crossed as we saw this time around."

Woodward went on to question why Gustard and King could not have continued their development at club level while starting their international roles under Jones' guidance.

He also pointed out the hypocrisy in Ritchie refusing to hire former Springboks coach Nick Mallett four years ago, instead opting for the unproven Lancaster as England coach, before Jones was appointed as his replacement ahead of two English contenders.

"Four years ago he was dead set against a proven international coach such as Nick Mallett and opted for an English coach, Lancaster, who was unproven even at club level. Yet suddenly, after the World Cup, he announced a worldwide search for a proven international coach!

"Jones can do a great job for England but the same could be said about Rob Baxter (Exeter) or Jim Mallinder (Northampton) but neither was interviewed."

Woodward signed off by imploring the RFU to take a measured approach to rectifying things within the England set-up, instead of throwing money at problems in the hope they will disappear.

"The key thing is to do things properly and not rely simply on the size of the RFU wallet to force things through.

"For four years there has been plenty of talk of values and we have been led to believe all things were rosy with the clubs with little real evidence of it. But it is actions which count and how the RFU have acted suggests all the wrong lessons have been learned from the World Cup.

"We have the players and the coaches at the sharp end, both for club and country, we always have. But we remain so uncompetitive as a Union and it is only highlighted every four years at World Cups when everyone arrives fully prepared.

"Goodwill and trust between club and country would repay itself tenfold and make the difference. These are lovely, idealistic words but will this ever happen?"