England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward says the biggest threat facing England this time round isn’t Australia, Wales or New Zealand – it’s the mobile phone.
“It’s the new enemy,” he says. “We didn’t have to worry about it in 2003, but I really saw it at London 2012.”
The 59-year-old coach, who after World Cup triumph went on to work as head of elite performance with the British Olympic Association, explains what he means in this week’s issue of Radio Times.
“I’ve had the conversation with [current England head coach] Stuart Lancaster,” Woodward says. “Don’t let the players be distracted.
“It could be the media, their family, sponsors, ticket requests, anything. One stupid tweet, one ill-judged video out on social media – if you allow one player to be distracted it can affect the whole team and it can all come tumbling down.”
England’s 2011 campaign was marred by a series of off-field incidents. Captain Mike Tindall and a number of squad players were photographed watching a ‘dwarf-throwing contest’ in a New Zealand bar, with the pictures appearing on Facebook.
Meanwhile former England centre Manu Tuilagi received a £3,000 fine and a police caution for jumping off a ferry.
England squad member James Haskell has said that the current team has learned from the incidents of 2011. “Everyone knows the ground rules so we know what the score is,” he told the Telegraph. “You step out of line and there are consequences. That’s fair enough. You have got to be aware that in this era of social media even a minor infraction can quickly become a big story if it goes viral. Everyone out there, too, is a potential paparazzi with their mobile phone cameras.”
The 2015 Rugby World Cup begins on Friday 18th September with England v Fiji at Twickenham Stadium, live on ITV. England play all but one of their pool matches at Twickenham.
To keep track of when every Rugby World Cup match is on TV, Radio Times has published a World Cup wall chart free with this week’s issue. Find out what matches are on each day, where they are being played and when they are live on TV.
Plus, World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio gives his verdict on England’s chances, while Shane Williams talks through Wales’s ‘Pool of Death’, Scott Hastings previews Scotland’s squad and Denis Hickie examines Ireland’s strengths.
Pick up the new issue of Radio Times in store and on the Apple Newsstand from Tuesday 8th September.