Rugby Union: RFU CULL PAVES THE WAY FOR WOODY'S RETURN; RUGBY CARNAGE: BACK TO THE FUTURE IN TWICKENHAM CRISIS Sackings Leave Robbo in Limbo but Open Door for Sir Clive as England Overlord

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Byline: Alex SPINK RUGBY CORRESPONDENT

SIR Clive Woodward was last night backed by one of England's sacked coaches as the best man to rescue English rugby.

The return of England's World Cup-winning coach moved a massive step closer after a day of carnage at Twickenham in which the Rugby Football Union finally acted to pull England out of crisis.

They ruthlessly culled 10 of their staff, including England coaches Phil Larder, Joe Lydon and Dave Alred - and told team boss Andy Robinson that his responsibilities had been "revised".

But most significantly they created a role of Elite Rugby Director, responsible for overseeing all aspects of representative rugby in England, as well as assisting Robinson with team selection.

And Larder, England's defence coach for the past nine years, set aside his personal hurt to urge the Union to bring Woodward back from Southampton Football Club, where he is Director of Football, and give him the job.

"Clive would be outstanding in that position, he really would, and I fervently hope he gets it," said Larder. "There's no other person I know who could do it as well as Clive.

"I like and respect people who are tough and who won't kowtow to administrators. Clive has proved he can stand and fight with the best of them. You need somebody who's tough and resilient like that. He's got all the credentials."

The new position is an enhanced version of Performance Director, the role an angry Chris Spice resigned from yesterday morning after his recommendation that Robinson be sacked was ignored.

Spice said: "I have for some time held the belief that a culture change was required in the England senior team. This was the best way for England to progress and could only happen through a change of leadership. If as a leader you can't stand on your principles and be responsible for the performance of what you're in charge of, I don't think you've much to stand on.

"The Six Nations review process has thrown up a lot of evidence to support my views, but as this will not be acted upon I think that now is the time to stand by what I believe in."

Spice believes yesterday's bloodletting should have occurred after the the last World Cup rather than waiting for England to become Six Nations also-rans with next to no time to arrest their slump before their title defence next year. …