Woodward: England a laughing stock

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Lynn McConnell     07 Nov 2015     Getty Images

With Burgess' decision to return to rugby league after one year out of the game, and the side's exit before the play-offs stages of the World Cup on their own turf, Woodward said in his Daily Mail column: "The rest of the world say those involved in English rugby are arrogant.

"I hate this reputation, but that is exactly what the RFU have been."

Woodward said Burgess ended his England stint with no blame for the mess surrounding him.

However, his return to rugby league meant England had reached one of their all-time lows, and most embarrassing points in their rugby history.

"The RFU has spent the last four years congratulating itself on the direction in which we're heading, but the truth is we have marched confidently into a total mess.

"The review after the 2011 World Cup was a shambles. Players and coaches let down by media leaks, good men exposed as scapegoats and lesser men hiding and shirking responsibility.

"Nothing has changed," Woodward said.

The panel chosen to find a successor to Martin Johnson had come up with Stuart Lancaster, 'a coach lacking any true coaching experience at any level to prepare our national team for a home World Cup'.

"Since then Lancaster and his team have been left exposed, as he and the RFU chose not to add any further expertise.

"The result was England failing to grasp what was required to challenge at the World Cup. After a second poor tournament in a row, the errors continue, illustrated by the personnel chosen to review Lancaster and England," Woodward said.

The saddest part was the players and fans had been let down.

"To get it right on the field of play you have to get it right off the field."