England rugby coach Woodward to resign

Last updated at 14:52 01 September 2004

Sir Clive Woodward's reign as England coach appears to be over after he confirmed he will resign later today.

Woodward met Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron today following seven years at the helm.

Baron wanted clarification about Woodward's reported moves towards launching a coaching or consultative career in English soccer.

However, it is understood rugby-related issues were also on today's agenda, with English rugby's elite player scheme likely to have been a major talking point.

Woodward emerged from the meeting and said: "I will be handing in my resignation."

Woodward left RFU headquarters to meet with RFU management board chairman Graeme Cattermole, but was expected to return to Twickenham later this afternoon.

The RFU had responded to speculation regarding Woodward's future by issuing a brief statement yesterday morning, quoting the 48-year-old as saying he will honour his existing contract, which expires after the 2007 World Cup.

But that is thought to include provision for a 12-month notice period. England are scheduled to play eight Tests this season - Canada, South Africa and Australia in November, followed by their 2005 RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign.

Woodward has been in charge of England for 83 Tests, winning 59 games and culminating in last November's stunning World Cup triumph.

England have had a disappointing 2004 though, losing five of their eight Test matches and finishing third in the Six Nations.

Their current run of four successive defeats - losses to France, New Zealand (twice) and Australia - is the worst England sequence since 1998.

If Woodward departs Twickenham, there is no clear favourite to replace him.

But his current number two, former Bath head coach Andy Robinson, Gloucester rugby director Nigel Melville and Newcastle boss, ex-England fly-half Rob Andrew, would all feature as contenders.

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