Woodward, Andrew race for top job

Sir Clive Woodward and Rob Andrew are the favourites for the position of Rugby Football Union’s elite director of rugby.

The BBC reported that the two men have emerged as the frontrunners for the post after former Springbok coach Nick Mallett, ex-Wasps director of rugby Warren Gatland and former Australia coach Eddie Jones ruled themselves out of the running.

The new elite director of rugby will oversee all aspects of representative rugby in England, from the regional academies to the full senior side.

He will also mastermind strategy and selection for the England team, recruit coaches and try to broker a deal with the clubs over player availability.

The RFU has come under increasing pressure from the English media for their administration of the game. This has not been aided by performance of the national team, who have won only 10 of last 26 games since their dramatic World Cup final victory in 2003.

Now the beleaguered organisation seek to elect the man they see as the one to drag English rugby kicking and screaming into a new, successful era.

Andrew, a former England fly-half, has been Newcastle Falcons director of rugby since 1995 and has repeatedly ruled himself out of contention for the role.

But huge support from English clubs is said to have persuaded him to re-enter the race at the last minute.

Andrews has largely been credited with developing Jonny Wilkinson into the flyhalf that had the rugby world in awe before a series of injuries kept him sidelined since the showpiece event in 2003.

Woodward, the mastermind of England’s 2003 World Cup triumph, left the RFU under a cloud in September 2004 and criticised chief Francis Baron in his resignation speech.

However, the Southampton director of football has been one of the favourites to land the post ever since its creation was announced in April.

The RFU are expected to make an announcement next week.