Former England coach Clive Woodward has continued his war of words with Australian rugby for throwing “weak” tour teams at the British and Irish Lions following their 64-0 drubbing of the Combined Country side on Tuesday.
Woodward, who coached the Lions on their 2005 tour of New Zealand, said the tourists could take “virtually nothing” out of the match in Newcastle and slammed the semi-professional Country side’s players for smiling after the heavy loss.
“I have never seen an Australian team celebrate because they had lost a match by fewer than 100 points — the smiles on their faces were simply bizarre,” Woodward said in his column in the Daily Mail.
“As a nation with such sporting pedigree — who pride themselves on their reputation as tough, hard competitors — I could not believe the jubilation and high fives after they had not even scored a point. It reminded me of the Corinthian spirit they used to love ridiculing the Poms about. What would the great Australian competitors, the likes of Shane Warne and Ian Thorpe, have made of that?” Woodward added, referring to the famous Australian cricketer and five-time Olympic swimming champion.
Woodward said the Lions’ tough 22-12 win over the Queensland Reds on Saturday last week was a great advertisement for Australian rugby, but it had been followed by a “soft, meaningless match.”
Woodward last week accused the Australians of treating the tourists with “contempt” when the Western Force side rested several first team players for their 69-17 defeat in Perth.
He also suggested the Lions should consider not returning to Australia if they were continued to be offered weak opposition in preparation for the three-Test series against the Wallabies, which starts with the first Test at Lang Park on Saturday next week.
The Lions play Super Rugby side New South Wales Waratahs in another tour match in Sydney today, and will face a team shorn of eight Australia players who are preparing with the Wallabies at a training camp in tropical Queensland state.
Australia on Thursday appeared to make a partial concession in response to the concerns, releasing four players, including 15-Test lock Dave Dennis, from the Wallabies camp to make them available for Waratahs selection.
Lions coach Warren Gatland had originally intended to put his strongest side out against the Waratahs, but on Thursday said he would use the match to test out more combinations.
“Warren Gatland has no need to play his Test team on Saturday — the Waratahs are without 10 Wallabies and playing another weak team will do nothing to help him prepare for the first Test,” Woodward said.