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07th Feb 2023

Clive Woodward happy to ‘eat humble pie’ after bold comments about Ireland

Patrick McCarry

‘Ireland taught them a big lesson’

Now that his old punch-bag, Eddie Jones is back in Australia, Clive Woodward has more time to look around the other sides competing in the Six Nations.

A Grand Slam and World Cup-winning coach with England, Woodward regularly muses about the game on ITV and in his Daily Mail column. Ahead of this year’s championship, Woodward had a pow-wow with Chris Foy and Danny Cipriani.

“Wales in Cardiff are going to be some team. I can see them causing an upset on the first Saturday by beating Ireland – and that would put the cat among the pigeons,” Woodward told the Mail. “I really think they can shock Ireland… I think Wales will win at home. You have to play really well to beat them in Cardiff. Ireland will not have played together for a while and it will be Warren Gatland’s first game back.”

Many rugby pundits and supporters felt the Gatland factor would stand to Wales, but Ireland were ruthless in their Principality Stadium encounter. They were 14-0 up after eight minutes, 27-3 to the good by half-time and eventually won 34-10.

On House of Rugby [LISTEN from 28:00 below], Greg O’Shea, Lindsay Peat and Jason Hennessy offered up their Six Nations predictions, and they are still looking good after the first weekend. Clive Woodward, meanwhile, admits he has some humble pie to eat.

Clive Woodward pictured at Twickenham Stadium during the 2015 World Cup. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Clive Woodward on ‘brutal’ Ireland pack

With week one of the 2023 Six Nations in the books, Clive Woodward was back in his weekly column giving his take on some of the big talking points.

On England, who lost to Scotland at Twickenham, he bemoaned some of Steve Borthwick’s substitutions and emphatically stated that the 10/12 axis of Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell does not work.

On Ireland, the former England head coach held up his hands and admitted he had erred. He called Andy Farrell’s men ‘a frightening unit’ and now has them as favourites to win the Six Nations, ahead of France. Woodward wrote:

‘Andy Farrell is in charge of a well-oiled Irish machine. They have a brutal pack, but their forwards have great ball-playing ability and that is best summed up by locks James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne. Wales couldn’t live with their power game but didn’t help themselves with indiscipline which gave Ireland easy entries into the 22.

‘I predicted a Welsh win before kick-off and will now happily eat humble pie on that one!’

Ireland play host to France, last year’s Grand Slam champions, on Saturday afternoon at the Aviva Stadium.

Andy Farrell is without Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Jamison Gibson-Park and Robbie Henshaw for the game, as well as longer-term injury Andrew Conway, but will still be able to name a strong team on Thursday afternoon.


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