Rugby Union: LIONS ARE DAN FOR.. Clive Refuses to Take Blame as Carter Runs Riot in All Black Rout

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), July 3, 2005 | Go to article overview

Rugby Union: LIONS ARE DAN FOR.. Clive Refuses to Take Blame as Carter Runs Riot in All Black Rout


Byline: From TOM BELL in Wellington

UNDER-FIRE Sir Clive Woodward insisted he would not change a thing about his Lions team - even though they slumped to a record defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.

Daniel Carter inspired the hosts with a 33-point haul and Graham Henry's side ran in five tries to run up their biggest ever score against the men in red.

But Woodward was unrepentant over his tactics and selection, despite a growing weight of critics lining up to let rip at the once untouchable architect of England's World Cup triumph.

'I don't intend to defend myself. I was put in charge and made the decisions and I just want to pat everyone on the back,' he said.

'I wouldn't change anything. I've spent almost a year of my life on this and I'm very happy with the personnel and the way we went about it

'In terms of the four nations coming together and getting something out of it, the tour has been a success. We've enjoyed the trip immensely, despite what you may have read in some of the papers.

'If it was just about winning the Tests, I'd take the top 22 players and base them in Melbourne. I'd play a couple of practice games behind closed doors and just jet over for the Tests. But that might not be too popular.'

Woodward's decision to take the largest ever Lions touring party to New Zealand - 51 players have been used - has certainly backfired. Spirits in the camp might have been good, with no reports of dangerous rifts developing between rival home nations. But the obese size of the squad meant players never had a chance to gel and formulate the partnerships needed to take on a brilliant and determined home team - who are looking a powerful unit ahead of the 2007 World Cup.

But, despite the scoreline, this was a better display than last week's first Test defeat in Christchurch.

'We were bitterly disappointed last weekend but I'm very proud of this performance,' said Woodward.

'It just was not meant to be - they are an outstanding team. I can't fault our efforts. We've just got to move on now. I don't care too much about the scoreboard but maybe we deserved more than we got.'

It had started so well. After just 60 seconds Gareth Thomas took advantage of some flat-footed All Blacks defending, taking the ball from Jonny Wilkinson to crash over for a try under the posts. …

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