Jones retains backing of RFU despite England’s dismal Six Nations

Australian will stay at the helm after signing a two-year contract extension in January

Eddie Jones: has presided over England’s fall from Six Nations champions last year to fifth place this season. Photograph:  Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Eddie Jones: has presided over England’s fall from Six Nations champions last year to fifth place this season. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

 

Eddie Jones retains the backing of the Rugby Football Union despite England’s dismal fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.

Ireland were crowned Grand Slam champions with a conclusive 24-15 victory at Twickenham on Saturday that condemned the hosts to a third consecutive defeat and their worst tournament performance since 1987.

The review into a series of results that have plunged England into crisis began on Wednesday morning with the RFU chief executive Steve Brown attending the initial meeting between Jones and his coaching staff.

As is customary after each tournament, Jones must present to the RFU board and also appear before the Professional Game Board, which represents the English game’s various stakeholders.

While mourning the collapse in results, Brown insists Jones remains the right man to lead England into the 2019 World Cup.

“Eddie and his coaches have my confidence and the measure of how good they are and can be will be how they respond to these tough times,” said Brown.

“The results in the Six Nations were not what we wanted, not what we expected and there is no attempt by us to dress this up. We wanted to do significantly better and we didn’t. We’re disappointed with the decline, no question about that. Nobody would want to go from winning the Six Nations to fifth.

“We will learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen again. No one is patting each other on the back, they’re looking for solutions to put us back to where we were before.

“We were motoring pretty well. We have hit a bit of a bump and now is the time to regroup, reassess and get back on track. It’s worth reflecting that Eddie has an 86 per cent win record with England. You don’t become a bad coach or team overnight. But we have to learn and have to improve.”

Hugely disappointed

Brown rejected Clive Woodward’s claim that England have stagnated and defended the decision to award Jones a two-year contract extension in January, stressing that the terms of the deal are subject to performance at the 2019 World Cup.

England’s record before this year’s Six Nations stood at a remarkable 22 wins from 23 Tests only to fall to comprehensive losses to Scotland, France and Ireland with a summer tour to South Africa looming.

“Maybe we were not quite as good as our results were showing before, but we are not as bad as fifth in the Six Nations. That’s an important point,” Brown said. “We’re hugely disappointed but confident in the ability to turn this around. These are the moments when you don’t knee-jerk without the evidence and data. We go again and we will bounce back.”

England’s performance has renewed calls for Twickenham to centrally contract the players with players’ chief Damian Hopley stating it should be considered.

“People talk about central contracts in very binary terms, they describe one situation or another,” Brown said. “What we actually have in reality is a sort of hybrid anyway, so there’s an element on central contracting that happens within that relationship when the players come into camp and into England space.”

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