Steele was ousted on Friday following a unanimous vote by the management board in response to his handling of the recruitment process for the newly-created England post.
RFU chairman Martyn Thomas claimed the die had already been cast before Steele's controversial attempts to downgrade the job description.
Steele decided, on March 17, to cancel Woodward's interview without discussing it with Thomas or fellow panel member Bill Beaumont.
Had Steele telephoned either of them, Thomas and Beaumont would have at least tried to persuade him to go ahead with the interview.
Instead, Steele sent them an email which neither Thomas nor Beaumont picked up until later in the evening. It was too late by then.
"The interview was cancelled and John made that decision. He was not able to communicate with Bill Beaumont and myself, the other members of the panel," said Thomas.
"We were both not contactable by email. We didn't receive that until late and by the time we received the email, as opposed to the phone call, it was too late to reinstate the interview.
"Looking back on it, with hindsight, that was a defining moment where things were starting to go wrong.
"Whether Clive would have got the job if he had been interviewed is hypothetical but certainly things started to go off track at that point.
"In my view it was the time that things started to go wrong."
Asked whether he would expect his chief executive to call him to discuss such an important issue, Thomas said: "It is very important that the chief executive, the chairman and the board members speak regularly and we were doing so.
"I think we owe a duty to people that have put themselves in that position to follow that process through to its conclusion.
"You only need one applicant that is right, they apply and you appoint them."
After England won the Six Nations, Steele then proposed downgrading the job description of the performance director to remove all direct influence over the national team.
Thomas said Steele never fully explained why he wanted to make the change, particularly given interviews for the post had already been arranged.
The board backed the proposal believing, according to Thomas, that it would only be in place until after this autumn's World Cup before reverting to the original job description.
Within 48 hours it became clear that Steele wanted to permanently cap the performance director's responsibility at Saxons level, the board forced him into a U-turn.
Some senior members of the board realised that a role with a reduced sphere of influence may not interest a high-profile candidate like Woodward.
As it was, Woodward withdrew his candidacy anyway.
A five-man team comprised of Rob Andrew, Richard Hill, Jason Leonard, John Spencer and Beaumont have been tasked with reporting to the board later this month on how other countries use a performance director.
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