What I’ve Learned

Head coach, 62

Esquire (UK) - - Contents -

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

just Clive.

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.

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