London - Former England head coach Clive
Woodward has accused the Rugby Football Union (RFU) of using Stuart Lancaster
as a scapegoat for the country's Rugby World Cup failure.
Lancaster, who signed a six-year contract
last year, stepped down as head coach on Wednesday after England became the
first host nation to be eliminated from a World Cup in the group phase.
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie will now
begin the search for a successor, but Woodward, who led England to World Cup
glory in 2003, believes that Ritchie should also have been held accountable.
"It is so wrong that Lancaster alone
seems to have been responsible for England's failure," Woodward wrote in
Thursday's edition of the Daily Mail newspaper.
"Those responsible for his
appointment, and who have backed him and been happy to reap praise in the good
times, should be looking in the mirror today and feeling very uncomfortable
over what has happened.
"Instead, Ian Ritchie, the man who
appointed Lancaster as head coach and offered the coaches six-year extensions
just a year ago, has led the panel to review their performance before
recommending to the board that Lancaster step down and he be the man to find
the next England coach.
"That man will then report to Ritchie.
What business would operate this way?"
He added: "I was fervently hoping for
real change from top to bottom, with Ritchie admitting serious errors in the
appointments and the structure of English rugby that has left us in this mess.
"Instead we find ourselves in the same
position as we did four years ago when Martin Johnson stepped down having
accepted the blame for a poor World Cup campaign in New Zealand."
Ritchie said on Wednesday that the RFU will
look to appoint a coach with "proven international experience".
But Woodward believes that the RFU would
leave itself open to accusations of hypocrisy if it hired a non-English coach,
due to its refusal to allow overseas-based players to play for England.
"At Wednesday's press conference
Ritchie confirmed he will lead the search for the next England coach, that the
next England coach will report to him and that he will appoint someone with
international coaching experience," said Woodward, who said he was not
interested in succeeding Lancaster.
"So we can't pick players who play
abroad, but we can employ coaches who come from abroad? How ridiculous.
"I simply do not believe Ritchie, who
does not know a ruck from a maul, is the right man to lead this appointment,
let alone have the new man report to him in the years which follow."