Sir Clive Woodward has taken another unprovoked snipe at South Africa, saying rugby will be “dead in five years” if the sport follows the route of the world champion Springboks.
Woodward, who coached England to the 2003 World Cup title, has been a regular critic of the Springboks’ conservative style of play and the team’s perceived lack of X factor and enterprise on attack in the Test series against the British & Irish Lions and in the three Rugby Championship matches to date this season.
Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, Woodward warns rugby must start to thrill fans or face the consequences in only a few years’ time.
“Positive, imaginative, attacking rugby is the way forward generally,” he wrote.
“I looked on in horror last weekend at the sheer poverty and boredom from the South Africa team against Australia. Rugby was not – and is not – meant to be played like that and I’m just pleased Australia won.
“The Boks’ series against the Lions was little better and it should worry everyone involved in the sport that rugby is going down that route. It will be dead in five years if it does.”
Sir Clive praised the All Blacks for showing “proper rugby is alive and well” after their win over Argentina, while Harlequins and Bristol Bears are commended for their “exciting, ball-in-hand rugby”.
“The ball must always be your friend, not a ticking time-bomb,” he added. “What is the point of neutralising your best players, kicking the leather off the ball all day?
“I’d love to sit down with the South Africa team and ask them, ‘Do you really enjoy playing this way?'”
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