Eddie Jones facing crunch talks with English RFU chief executive

His contract runs until 2023 World Cup but is understood to contain a break clause

Eddie Jones’ England team suffered Six Nations defeats by Ireland, Wales and Scotland for the first time in 46 years. Photograph: Inpho

Eddie Jones’ England team suffered Six Nations defeats by Ireland, Wales and Scotland for the first time in 46 years. Photograph: Inpho

 

Eddie Jones is facing crunch talks with the English Rugby Football Union chief executive, Bill Sweeney, as part of a review into England’s poor Six Nations campaign with the head coach’s contract understood to contain a break clause.

Jones is the world’s highest-paid rugby union coach and agreed an extension through to the 2023 World Cup last April. It is believed, however, that it would not necessarily be prohibitively expensive for the RFU to part ways with Jones due to a clause in his contract, similar to that which existed in his previous deal. In that instance the clause was performance related, dependent on how England fared at the 2019 World Cup.

Sweeney will play an active role, alongside Jones, in the review into England’s Six Nations showing, which culminated in a fifth-place finish following Saturday’s dismal defeat by Ireland, a record penalty count against and a negative points difference for the first time since 1987, back in the Five Nations days. In addition, England suffered defeats by Ireland, Wales and Scotland for the first time in 46 years.

An RFU spokesperson said: “Our coaching and leadership team will review our performance in the Six Nations and we know the England team will continue to grow and learn from this.”

On Sunday Jones was due to begin a “frantic and intense” debrief with his senior players and staff. The World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, meanwhile, stopped short of calling for Jones to be sacked in the aftermath of England’s 32-18 defeat in Dublin but did say the head coach needs to “look in the mirror”.

Three years ago England also finished fifth and though they recovered to reach the World Cup final 18 months later, the drop in Six Nations prize money was considered part of the reason the RFU posted a loss that year. Claiming the 2020 title earned the RFU around £5m but finishing second bottom leaves the union with a damaging shortfall given the anticipated loss of up to £35m this year.

Asked if finishing fifth was unacceptable, Jones said: “You know it’s not [ACCEPTABLE]. You know it’s not. We’re disappointed, very disappointed.” Asked if he was still the right man to take England forward, Jones added: “That’s not the question at the moment. The question at the moment is that we need to play better. That’s for other people to answer, not for me to answer.” He did, however, go on to express confidence he could turn things around as he did in 2018.

“There’s no reason that we won’t,” he said. “I think that teams come through these periods of time and you come out of it far stronger than you were before.”

Jones’s senior players gave Jones their full backing to continue, with Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola both insisting the squad must shoulder the blame for England’s performances. “Eddie is a fantastic coach. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve worked with – his workrate, his knowledge, his feeling with the players, the way he goes about his business – are genuinely second to none,” said Itoje. “As players, we need to be accountable for our behaviours. He’s a truly special coach.”

Vunipola, who endured a dreadful afternoon in Dublin and was replaced at half-time, added: “As a group of senior players, we have to take full responsibility. The coaches and Eddie always put us in the position where we are able to win games. It’s then on to us out there to execute that and we haven’t done that well enough or consistently enough.” - Guardian

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