"So painful" - Sir Clive Woodward 'heartbroken' by health update from 2003 World Cup hero - Ruck

“So painful” – Sir Clive Woodward ‘heartbroken’ by health update from 2003 World Cup hero

 Sir Clive Woodward has opened up about how it feels to hear about how World Cup hero Steve Thompson suffering so much with dementia.

The former hooker said he cannot remember winning the World Cup, would not want his own children to play the game “the way it is at the moment” and that he regrets ever taking it up himself.

“It really saddens that Steve wishes he had never been part of the tournament, so painful is the knowledge that he cannot remember any of it,” wrote Woodward.

“I find it heartbreaking that he is suffering all the problems associated with premature onset dementia. It’s hardly surprising that he describes rugby as ‘lethal’.

“In his book, he tells how he was back training with his club just three or four days after the World Cup. I was shocked just how quickly most of the lads were pressed back into action with their clubs after an exhausting World Cup campaign. I needed a break and I hadn’t even been playing.

“Frankly one reason I fell out with the RFU in 2004 and resigned as England coach is that I wanted to have more say regarding workload and fatigue levels while training and playing with their clubs.

“I wanted much better cooperation with the clubs, longer stand-down times, but there didn’t seem the will or desire to make this happen.”




  • 15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
  • 14. Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish)
  • 11. Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons)

Woodward wrote: “Steward has something special about him, he is clearly very strong mentally, and now I would like to see those attacking skills more fully deployed at full back to complement his defensive qualities.

“If England are going to try a few players —something that should have been done two years ago — why haven’t we seen Adam Radwan or Ollie Hassell-Collins get extended runs in big matches that really count?”

Freddie Steward of England goes over for a try during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Australia at Twickenham on 13 November 2021. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK


  • 13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
  • 12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)
Manu Tuilagi of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Tonga at Twickenham Stoop on 6 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK


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