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Clive Woodward's Latest Column Is Proof That He's Trapped In A 2003 Time Warp

Clive Woodward's Latest Column Is Proof That He's Trapped In A 2003 Time Warp
By Will Slattery

The man is like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. On Clive Woodward's calendar the day is permanently fixed to November 23rd 2003.

To an extent, his basking is justified. He led England to a World Cup win! It is an almost unfathomable achievement, especially when you contenxualise it with the struggles of the northern hemisphere teams at the recent tournament.

But his incessant references to that magical day in Syndey are as grating as they are hilarious. Woodward has become his own meme at this stage. This exchange probably happens once a broadcast.

Host: How do you think the rain will impact today's game?

CW: Rain always impacts games... I remember it poured down when we beat France in the World Cup semi-final in 2003.

If the World Cup win can be shoehorned into an on-air conversation Woodward will jam it in with gusto. His column in the Daily Mail ahead of England's Six Nations game with Italy on Sunday was particularly enjoyable for those who enjoy the former England coach's frequent bouts of nostalgia.

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If that doesn't make you laugh then you are taking your rugby way too seriously. Below the headline it got even better. Woodward might be right - might - that his England team were the fittest in the world back in 2003 but does that really have any bearing on the game today?

"My 2003 team were coached and selected on the basis of being ‘the fastest and fittest team in world rugby’, which we became. In recent years there has been a total misunderstanding of what is physically required to be the No 1 team in the world. This is a power sport but at the highest level that isn’t enough. If a team don’t have the ability to relentlessly attack and play at speed for 80 minutes you’re a sitting duck and you’ll be blown away by those who can.

Looking man for man between my England team in 2003 and the England team at last year’s World Cup, I would still rate my team as being fitter and better equipped physically to beat the speed of the Southern Hemisphere teams, which is a staggering statement to make."

The England team are in better shape today than they were in 2003. Sports science has evolved to the point that the previous sentence is an undeniable fact.

But hey, if you have it, flaunt it. Clive Woodward won the World Cup and as he keeps reminding us, that is kind of a big deal.

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