What I’ve Learned
Head coach, 62
Sir Clive Woodward on life beyond the rugby field and that England match
i’m outlook quite in terms entrepreneurial of what I actually in my do.
I’ve has never, just kind ever of planned happened my in career. front of My me. career
ten minutes early is on time for me.
I’m absolutely neurotic about punctuality.
when my daughter jess was about 16, one journalist asked her: “What’s it like being the daughter of the England rugby coach?” She said, “Well, it has its moments. When we lose a game you read things in the paper and it’s quite hard when your dad’s in there. But hey, how many kids have Jonny Wilkinson come round for tea?”
my wife, jayne, is totally and utterly involved in what I do. I share everything with her and she supports me hugely. In the World Cup she was absolutely key; she looked after all the players’ parents, all their wives and girlfriends. She got to know everyone really well. Some would say she picked the team, which is probably not far from the truth!
i played for england 21 times, which doesn’t sound like very many but in those days that was four years. I was first capped in 1980. We just played Five Nations. There wasn’t really anything else.
i’m the chairman of a small software company called Hive Learning and I’m director of sport for a project called Apex2100, which is building a ski academy in Tignes in the South of France. I also do corporate speaking, and the fourth thing is media work. I’ve never been busier! I love working, to be brutally honest. I can’t imagine not working.
people say to me, “Do you get fed up with signing autographs?” The honest answer is no, because I don’t get asked for that many. Someone will come up for a picture or a signature in a restaurant. You meet the odd clown but that’s all part of it. i seem to be pretty good at losing things. I can’t honestly remember why I left the things where I eventually find them so I blame everyone else. “Who put it there?” That drives me nuts.
i watch so much sport… I’m going to sound extremely dull but I don’t really watch other [things on] TV. Sport is what I do. If there were two snails having a race I’d stop to see which one wins.
after i left loughborough university, I was going to go into teaching but then I joined Rank Xerox. They really invested in the people working for them and it was very competitive so I loved it. Looking back now, it’s hard to explain to people that I’d play for England at Twickenham on a Saturday afternoon then on Monday morning at 8 o’clock I’d be in a sales meeting giving my forecast of how many copiers we’re going to finance that week. It was an amateur game and we played it for fun.
do i believe in forgive and forget? That’s probably not one of my strengths. I kind of hold on to things. It depends how big the “forgive” is… I’m not sure I do believe in that.
only my kids call me sir clive. I’m
you’ve got to understand that you’re not going to win every game, but you can take losing — and you absolutely can take losing — as long as, deep down, you know you’ve done everything you can to win and cut no corners. Then, if you lose, life will go on.
if you can get your basics right in any given subject then the chances of being successful are really high. What are the basics? What are the things that are absolutely non-negotiable in getting it right? You’ve got to get your whole team all singing off the same hymn sheet: “Yes, these are our basics — bang, bang, bang!” i particularly love golf. It’s one of those games where amateurs can play with professionals and absolutely hold their own. i can speak to six people around the dinner table and I’ve done 2,000 at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s a lot easier speaking to 2,000 people because they can’t interrupt you. sport has always been about enjoyment for me. Hopefully, that’s the truth for the guys who earn mega money. You’d like to think they would still do it for nothing.
my father was in the royal air force — he’s passed away and my mother’s passed away — so I was from a service family. I went to this Merchant Navy boarding school called HMS Conway, on Anglesey in North Wales. I went at 13. I didn’t like it. I ran away a few times. I don’t think my relationship with my parents was ever the same. I became this very independent person, probably in a bad way. i’d love to have been a professional football player. It still kind of irks me that I never went down that path.
i’m not naturally good at small talk.
I’m hopeless at cocktail parties.
my greatest professional moment is definitely winning the World Cup because so much hard work had gone into it. It wasn’t luck or a freak of nature. We really created an amazing team, but to actually nail it and win in such dramatic circumstances was fantastic.
you’ve always got to be learning. I don’t think you can ever study enough. I probably should be a little bit broader in what I read. I’m so into my own subjects… my reading consists of the newspaper, some golf magazines and business books.
there is a saying in sport: you’re only as good as your last game. I’ve never looked back.