Twickenham supremo Francis Baron has rejected calls from Sir Clive Woodward to step aside as Rugby Football Union chief executive.
Woodward fired a broadside at Baron and RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew, blaming them for the current state of English rugby which includes the national team winning just one one of t heir last nine Test matches.
But Baron was in no mood for a verbal scrap, preferring instead to recall "five great years" working with Woodward, which included England's 2003 World Cup triumph.
Baron said: "I had five great years working in part-nership with Clive.
"I think Clive and I probably formed one of the most successful partnerships in rugby anywhere in the world over an extended period of time.
"I have great memories of that, and I am not going to say anything now which seems to be a tit-for-tat.
"As far as I am concerned, my working relationship with Clive was outstanding. He produced great results on the field, I produced great results off the field.
"The partnership worked brilliantly, and I was disappointed when he stepped down in 2004, but he has gone his separate way and he has been out of the game for two years.
"The game is a very different game now, the issues are very different now than they were when Clive was in post, and I was disappointed to read what he had to say.
"But he is perfectly entitled to express his opinion, and I am not going to say anything negative about Clive because I have a high regard for him."
Asked if he would step down from his job, Baron replied: "No, I won't.
"We have got a massive programme in place. On the commercial side, there is the South Stand to complete - there is another year's work there - and I am determined to see all that through.
"In my period in office, we've had seven good years and one lousy year. I don't like lousy years on my record, and I am going to make sure we put it right and we get back on track to having good years again."
England launch their RBS Six Nations Champion-ship campaign against Scotland in barely seven weeks' time, but moves to appoint Andy Robinson's immediate successor as head coach could be completed by Christmas.
Harlequins rugby director Dean Richards, former Wasps chief Warren Gatland and ex-Springboks boss Nick Mallett have all been touted as potential candidates - but the answer could lie closer to home.
Current England attack coach Brian Ashton looks best-placed to take the reins, certainly for the Six Nations, although Andrew continued to give nothing away as he prepares to make his recommendation to tomorrow week's RFU management board meeting.
Andrew said: "My think-ing is pretty clear now in terms of where I think it should go.
"We have got some further conversations to be had, but I am expecting to be able to make a recommendation to the management board next Wednesday.
"I am consulting within the organisation and I am speaking to people who I feel I can trust with regard to the appointment of the next England head coach.
"We have been looking at all of the options, but it is not a straightforward exercise in being able to pluck somebody out of the air. These things take time in terms of crossing t's and dotting i's, and I don't think we can be held to any timescale on any of these matters. We have had conversations with people  I am not ruling anyone in, or anyone out."
And as for Woodward's criticism, Andrew added: "I am here to do a job, and I will do that to the best of my ability.
"Whatever people think of that, it's a free world and they can say what they want to say.
"I appreciate everyone has an opinion about what is going on in and around the game, and they are quite entitled to those opinions.