Woodward’s five best England players

Woodward's five best England players

Sir Clive Woodward in his career has worked with some of the best players in world rugby during England.

After a poor start as England boss, RFU decided not to sack him, and he won Six Nations titles in 2000 and 2001 before winning the coveted Grand Slam in 2003.

Then came glory in the Rugby World Cup 2003 in Australia, where Jonny Wilkinson scored a last-gasp drop goal to beat the defending champions and tournament hosts 20-17. In the New Year’s honours of 2004, he was knighted.

Here, He ranks his World Cup-winning team’s five “best” players.

Jason Robinson

Billy Whizz, a former rugby league great who converted to Union, was a huge success. Robinson was known for his speed, acceleration, side-step, and ability to beat defenders throughout his career.

He was a nightmare to mark in one-on-one situations as a dangerous runner from full-back or wing. Had a knack for scoring memorable tries on the big stage.

Woodward’s comment: “He was a sponge and soaked up every single rugby union skill. By the end he was probably the best kicker out of hand we had, he laid the ball back at rucks perfectly and his tackle technique was perfect. What a player.”

Woodward's five best England players

Lawrence Dallaglio

From a chorister in school to one of England’s most decorated and successful players of all time.

Dallaglio rose to prominence as a raw talent in the back row during England’s triumph at the 1993 Sevens World Cup at Murrayfield, earning 85 England caps and cementing his status as an English rugby icon.

In his prime, he had it all: speed, power, aggression, pride, and a steely mentality. With Wasps, he is a Lions series winner, a World Cup winner, and a trophy magnet.

Woodward’s comment: “So talented, so physical, such a great understanding of the game and so bloody competitive. One of the best England players ever.”

Woodward's five best England players

Martin Johnson

He captained the Lions on two occasions, including the famous 1997 trip to South Africa, and he will be remembered as the man who helped win England the 2003 World Cup in Sydney.

The Leicester lock was a great player in his own right, as well as an inspirational leader. In the tight, he was a rock-like figure whose rugby mantra was “If in doubt, go forward.”

Johnson is widely considered as one of the best locks to have ever played the game in more ways than one.

Woodward’s comment: “Inspirational leader, formidable player, competitive in every situation. The example he set in every tight situation in every game led the way.”

Woodward's five best England players

Jonny Wilkinson

Wilkinson scored 1,246 during his 97 caps for England and the Lions. His finest hour, of course, came in 2003, when he slotted the drop goal that won the World Cup.

The fact he landed it with his weaker right foot speaks volumes for his hours and hours of diligent practice. Bowed out on a high, earning two more trophies with Toulon.

Woodward’s comment: “Jonny was special and he scared the opposition. Everyone has to pat him on the back. The way he defended and attacked, he was a very special player. All of us involved in that team [in 2003] just felt very lucky and privileged to have had him around at that time.”

Woodward's five best England players

Richard Hill

Under Clive Woodward, the back-rower was a member of the much-heralded England loose trio of Back, Dallaglio, and Hill, which led England to Rugby World Cup triumph in 2003.

Hill, the quintessential players’ player, did all the unseen grafting work and simply went about his business, putting his body on the line.

He was a vital figure on two Lions trips and an England World Cup winner, able to excel across the back row.

Woodward’s comment: “I rated Hill so highly in an England jersey that he was the only player I never dropped once during my tenure. Different class.”

Woodward's five best England players
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