Robinson steps in as Woodward and RFU finally part

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Andy Robinson was on Thursday appointed England's acting chief coach after the resignation of Sir Clive Woodward was accepted by the Rugby Football Union following two days of negotiations.

Robinson, 40, will take over from Monday and has confirmed that he would be applying for the post when the RFU starts the search for a permanent successor to Woodward. One of his strongest likely rivals, Rob Andrew, has declared himself a non-runner.

Like Woodward, Robinson went into coaching after a distinguished playing career. He won eight caps as a fast, combative open-side flanker and was unfortunate on his single British Lions tour in 1989 to have to compete for a place with the captain, Finlay Calder. His greater achievements, though, were arguably with his club Bath, with whom he won six championships and nine cups, before turning successfully to coaching. A renowned expert on forward play, he was also deputy to chief coach Graham Henry on the 2001 British Lions tour of Australia.

Whether Woodward, who will explain his departure at a press conference on Friday morning, can fulfil his role as coach of the Lions in next summer's tour of New Zealand is still unclear. Lions chief executive John Feehan was declining to comment on Thursday, not least because he is accountable to a consortium of the four home unions, who include the RFU.

The appointment would surely be jeopardised should his prospective employment in football prevent him from paying sufficient attention to rugby. If the Lions had to seek an alternative coach, the likeliest would seem to be Ireland's Eddie O'Sullivan. Another option would be to ask Ian McGeechan to take charge of his fourth tour.

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