Rugby Union

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD's 2021 sporting bucket list

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Finn Russell adding flair for the Lions, fabulous France in the Six Nations and Joshua vs Fury… here’s my 2021 sporting bucket list

  • Sir Clive Woodward reveals to Sportsmail his 2021 sporting bucket list 
  • The Lions must be about skills, pace and excitement so start Finn Russell at No10 
  • England v France will define Test rugby in lead-up to World Cup in France 2023
  • Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury will be an historic moment for British sport

Sir Clive Woodward reveals to Sportsmail his 2021 sporting bucket list ahead of a busy year with a Lions tour, Euros and boxing super fights.

Finn Russell at No 10 for the Lions

The deterioration of the Covid situation clearly puts this tour in doubt but let’s dare to dream of the best-case scenario in which the tour continues in some form.

I would love Warren Gatland to send out a big message to the South Africans and the rugby world. We are here to play, excite and wow fans across the globe.

No more macho talk about defence, physicality, winning the territory battle with box-kicking — let’s talk about skill, pace and excitement. That’s what the Lions must be about.

Of course they must match the Boks up front but I don’t think you are ever going to dominate the South African forwards. The Lions must find other innovative ways of winning and they should have a world class back division based on attack not defence and skill not size.

Finn Russell at No 10 adds skill, pace and excitement and that’s what the Lions must be about

England v France in Six Nations on March 13

This is the match and the rivalry that will define Test rugby in the lead-up to the World Cup in France 2023. France are already very good and will only get better. Their makeshift Third XV deserved to win at Twickenham last month.

England have the players and the pack and there are talented youngsters queuing up but they must expand their game or they will continue to tread water. I would love to see Eddie Jones getting England to think outside the box.

Rugby is waiting for a team and a coach to break the mould. Whoever does will reap huge rewards.

Olympic Golf

Justin Rose was a magnificent gold medal winner in Rio 2016 but the tournament suffered a little from many of the top professionals staying away. More fool them.

I would love to see some team element introduced, especially men and women playing alongside one another. It’s too late for 2021 but Paris 2024 is a possibility. Meanwhile, it seems most of the top players have had a rethink and the field will be stacked on July 29 when the action starts.

I would love to see some team element introduced to the Olympic golf later this year

An old fashioned day out at the rugby

Don’t you just want to sit in a packed stadium among fans buzzing with excitement? Rugby misses it terribly, more than any other sport. Meeting up with friends for lunch, a few pints, some gossip, a great match, the post-match inquest and debate.

The hustle and bustle, the singing, the bands, even the loudspeaker announcer who I normally curse on a match day.

It looks like autumn is the earliest this can happen in Europe, but fingers crossed it could happen sooner.

A separate Minister of Sport

If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it is the massive importance of sport in our lives. A healthier nation will alleviate the strain upon the NHS but, individually, the benefits — physically, mentally and professionally — are indisputable.

We always used to have a Minister of Sport but now it has been morphed into something called the Ministry of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The sports industry is huge, impacts on millions of lives and is a major employer.

We badly need a big hitter in the Cabinet fighting our battles, especially when it comes to setting budgets for grassroot sports.

Ben Ainslie in America’s Cup

I first watched the America’s Cup in the 1980s when Alan Bond’s team brought Australia to a halt with their famous win in Perth and it has now become an incredible spectacle with the space age yachts reaching 50 knots.

Ben Ainslie’s Ineos team are up against it. They have technical issues and been short on work-up time with cancelled regattas. The Americans are strong favourites to win the challenger series which decides who takes on the Kiwis but never write Ben off. He will have his team working 24/7 to get his boat up to speed.

Ben Ainslie’s Ineos team are up against it. They have technical issues with cancelled regattas

England v Scotland at the Euros

How epic is this pool game at Wembley going to be? Let’s hope some kind of crowd will be permitted by then. I am very impressed with England under Gareth Southgate.

They have the players, a golden era, in fact, based on those age- group sides that dominated the world a few years back.

But, rather like the rugby team, they need to bring all their skills and talents to the party.

Watching Manchester United play recently, it was a real treat to see Scott McTominay. He is special and will be at the heart of the Scotland effort.

I am very impressed with the England national side under manager Gareth Southgate (right)

Olympic Sevens Rugby

Rugby sevens could move to another level in Japan, where it will take centre stage. I am delighted Team GB have confirmed our men’s and women’s teams will compete, although it feels like a missed opportunity to have no women coaches.

Team GB had the chance to make a statement by ensuring women were on the coaching roster.

Equally, it would be nice if one or two of the global superstars could prioritise the Games. Like the golfers, they would never regret it.

Joshua v Fury

If Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury lock horns in 2021 it’s an historic moment for British sport. 

As director of sport for Team GB I was lucky to experience our amateur boxing scene and watching Joshua win gold at London 2012 was a highlight. I was disappointed boxing wasn’t supported in the £300m recovery fund made available for sport in the UK.

If Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury lock horns, it will be a historic moment for British sport

I was disappointed boxing wasn’t supported in the Government’s £300m recovery fund

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