The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
The IRB Sevens’ series impacts on a player’s availability in both the Guinness Premiership and for Martin Johnson’s England, meaning the nation’s leading lights turn their back on the shortened game.
But Woodward, who is currently in Vancouver with Team GB fulfilling his role as director of elite performance for the British Olympic Association, insists it will be very different for Rio.
Imagine a Great Britain seven compromising of Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Delon Armitage, Max Evans, James Haskell, Tom Croft and James Hook – well that’s the standard of team Sir Clive is anticipating.
“It will be a Great Britain team and speaking to players already who have done everything in the game, who have won World Cups, Guinness Premierships and been on Lions tours and they are desperate to win Olympic gold,” said Woodward.
“I’m expecting all the best players in international rugby to be at the Olympics and fighting for a place in their respective sides.
“It will be brilliant to see a Great Britain team, obviously it will be similar to the Lions in many ways and I think there will be a similar sense of achievement in being part of it.
“The details will have to be sorted out closer to the time but I’m confident that it will be a brilliant occasion featuring the world’s best players.
“People don’t realise just how special the Olympic Games are until they sample it and I’d be telling the players to do everything they can to play in them.
“I think we could have a fantastic team if you think of the players we could include in it, it is very exciting.
“For myself as a rugby man and a BOA employee I can’t think of anything better.”
More than 70 stakeholders from the seven-a-side game, including representatives from the IRB and other GB Olympic sports were invited to Twickenham last month amid concerns that a lack of planning could hinder medal chances at the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The appointment of a management and coaching structure, the release of elite 15-a-side players, entry to pre-Olympics competitions and the issue of whether Northern Irish-born players will be allowed to participate are all areas of concern that still need agreeing.
But with the lure of claiming Olympic gold a distinct possibility in 2016 – Woodward insists all such administrative hurdles are not insurmountable.
“I think it is fantastic that rugby sevens has been included,” added Woodward. “I remember walking down the village in Beijing and thinking it would work perfectly.
“I think rugby will benefit from the Games and the Games will benefit from rugby too.
“I think there are lots of people who will want to watch and it will be great for all the players to be exposed to the athlete’s village and what goes on there.
“It is great that it is part of the Olympic family and as a rugby man it is great for me too. The IRB did a great job in getting the successful bid.
“I’ve been involved right at the top in rugby and it is a massive game but sometimes you just have to remember that it isn’t quite as big as you think it is around the world.