England set to appoint Eddie Jones as their new coach
Former Australia and Japan coach to guide England into the Six Nations
Eddie Jones: the former Australia and Japan coach is set to fill the role with England. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA
England’s underachieving rugby players are about to receive a short, sharp shock in the form of Eddie Jones, who is expected to be announced as their new coach after the 55-year-old Australian flew into London for contractual discussions with the RFU.
It is only just over a week since Stuart Lancaster parted company with the union but its chief executive, Ian Ritchie, has wasted little time. The RFU is already understood to have discussed a six-figure compensation deal with the Stormers in Cape Town, who Jones has only recently joined.
The former Australia and Japan coach is understood to have had a break clause in his contract, having indicated his desire to coach at international level again. He is now set to steer England into the Six Nations championship and will be expected to build a squad capable of winning the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Once Ritchie made it clear he was seeking a seasoned heavy-hitter to replace Lancaster it was always likely Jones would be somewhere near the front of the queue. He suffered a stroke two years ago but recovered to steer Japan to three wins at the World Cup.
He also guided the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final and was a technical advisor to the South Africa side who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007.
This will be the first time the RFU has appointed a coach from overseas, although the New Zealander John Mitchell was once Clive Woodward’s assistant. It is also understood Jones will have free rein when it comes to choosing his coaching team, with a number of Englishman in the frame. Among the contenders will be the forwards specialists Alex Sanderson and Steve Borthwick, both of whom have worked under Jones before, while Shaun Edwards and Paul Gustard are candidates for the role of the defence coach.
As things stand, Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt still remain contracted to the RFU but their positions hinge entirely on Jones’s plans. Borthwick was a part of the Japan coaching team who masterminded the spectacular victory over South Africa in Brighton in September, although the former England captain has only recently begun a job with Bristol and may not be keen to coach players who were team-mates at Saracens only a couple of season ago.
New contractEdwards has yet to sign a new contract with Wales, having helped knock his native country out of the World Cup at the pool stages. Gustard toured Argentina with Lancaster’s England side in 2013 and has been the driving force behind Saracens’s successful “wolf pack” defensive system. At some stage, however, England have to develop their own world-class coaches and it will be fascinating to see the final make-up of Jones’s new panel.
While Jones’s record is not entirely without blemish, his new team have won only one Six Nations title since 2003. He has a promising bunch of young players to work with but the system in which they operate has consistently failed to deliver a national team who fulfil their potential.
The RFU have now concluded a blast of fresh antipodean air is needed, at least in the short term. It means that, remarkably, not a single British or Irish coach is in charge of any of the four home nations. Guardian Service