Woodward would have to quit Games to secure RFU return

Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas has opened the door for Sir Clive Woodward's return by inviting him to get back in touch over the England performance director position.

Woodward walked away from the botched recruitment process following the RFU's indecision about whether the job would include influence over the England team.

The former chief executive John Steele cancelled Woodward's interview on 17 March and then decided to downgrade the position. He was ousted by the RFU management board on Friday,

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Woodward has publicly pledged his commitment to the British Olympic Association through to 2012 - but is reportedly still interested in taking up the role at Twickenham. When that was put to Thomas yesterday, he urged Woodward to get in touch before eulogising about the qualities he would bring to the post. "If that is the case then Clive and I need to speak. Clive knows my telephone number and I would happily speak to Clive Woodward," said Thomas. "You have got to respect what the man has done. I accept he had an outstanding bunch of players to work with but he was the guy who plotted England's (World Cup) success in 2003. The detractors will say that he left the union (in 2004) in unfortunate circumstances, that he was critical. It was a disagreement with Francis Baron, our previous chief executive. Like divorce it was six of one, half a dozen of the other. Clive has held his hands up to that.

"He had a disastrous Lions tour, Okay. He has acknowledged that. It is over. He went to soccer to expand. He has been at the BOA and there has been nothing to blot his copybook at the BOA.

"This guy has a unique set of skills. He not only understands rugby at the elite end but he has developed a talent for sporting success across a variety of disciplines. You have to see him."

It has been suggested that Woodward could initially take the RFU position as part of a job-share arrangement with the BOA, where he is also performance director, before moving full-time into Twickenham after the Olympics. But Thomas scotched that notion and confirmed Woodward would have to quit the BOA if he wanted to return to the RFU, seven years after storming out after a row with former chief executive Francis Baron.

"The England rugby team and its success is critical to me," said Thomas. "We languish at sixth in the IRB rankings. It is unacceptable. I don't believe we can have a situation where we have a part-timer doing the job even if he was to come at a later stage. That for me would not be an answer. We need a man that has a skill set that is 100 per cent committed to putting England back to where they need to be. We need success in New Zealand and that is totally down to Martin Johnson and his coaches and we then need to be looking forward to 2015.

"The RFU job is a full-time job. We have already lost a lot of time."