Eddie Jones retains England support after RFU review
Australian to remain at the helm despite fifth-place finish in recent Six Nations
Eddie Jones has retained the support of the English RFU after a review. Photograph: Tess Derry/PA
Eddie Jones retains the “full support” of the Rugby Football Union to carry on as England head coach despite their dismal Six Nations showing. An RFU debrief has concluded that despite the “sub-optimal” campaign – England’s worst since 1976 - Jones remains the right man to lead the squad.
Jones is the highest paid coach in the world but his contract includes a clause that ensured it would not have been prohibitively expensive for the RFU to part ways with the 61-year-old. The chief executive, Bill Sweeney, had also refused to rule out sacking him but the union’s review – which included “positive feedback” from the squad as well as input from coaches past and present, support staff and presentations from Jones – has concluded he will remain in the role.
Significantly, however, the RFU intends to ensure that “external rugby experts” will continue to inform all future debriefs as well as provide “additional insight and support” for the head in what amounts to the most significant outcome of the review in terms of how Jones’s role may be affected.
The review has made a number of recommendations to be implemented for the summer Tests against the USA and Canada - the RFU has also revealed they are set to take place in England - and pinpointed a number of “specific factors” that impacted on this year’s Six Nations campaign. Those include the fact that several players “did not have enough game time” before the tournament - seemingly a reference to the Saracens contingent - as well as how two of Jones’s right-hand men, Jason Ryles and Neil Craig, were unable to be a part of the campaign. “Playing squad cohesion” was also identified as an issue due to the strict covid protocols within the camp, as was breakdown indiscipline.
“We were all disappointed to finish fifth in the Six Nations,” said Sweeney. “Our track record and results under Eddie meant that we, the players and our fans had much higher expectations. Sport is all about fine margins which is why every campaign debrief is invaluable in helping us to learn and improve. Eddie approached this review with a great deal of self-awareness and humility, allowing us to look at every aspect of the tournament to identify every small change we can make in order to improve.”
Other recommendations to be implemented include additional support structures for coaches and players with an emphasis on sports psychology, additional refereeing input and closer alignment with the Premiership - particularly over the use of data and analytics - as well as an annual summer conference between the elite England set-up and the top-flight coaches.
“During the Six Nations we were not up to our usual high standards and we recognise that,” said Jones. “The debrief was a valuable process, we all learned a lot from the experience and most importantly we have identified actions to enable the team to move forward positively towards 2023. I’m looking forward to the summer tour which will provide a great opportunity to see more of our emerging talent and I’m confident our next team will come back stronger this autumn building up to a winning performance in the next Six Nations.” - Guardian