RFU reveal plan for England with home-grown coach to succeed Jones

RFU reveal their surprise plan for England with a home-grown coach to succeed Eddie Jones – and the new boss could join BEFORE the 2023 World Cup to shadow the Aussie

  • The Rugby Football Union (RFU) are planning for life after coach Eddie Jones
  • A number of home-grown English coaches are on the RFU’s successor shortlist
  • RFU could get Jones’ successor in prior to the World Cup to shadow the coach 

England rugby bosses have revealed their succession plan to replace Eddie Jones with a team of home-grown coaches after next year’s World Cup.

The Rugby Football Union has prepared a shortlist of English candidates in an effort to avoid having to turn to another big-ticket overseas coach – ruling out the likes of Warren Gatland.

Bill Sweeney, the RFU’s chief executive, wants to appoint the successor to Jones by the summer of 2023. They could even follow the French model whereby the successful candidate shadows Jones at the World Cup.

Eddie Jones is to be replaced by an English coach following the 2023 World Cup in France

‘We’ve got an advanced succession plan in place,’ Sweeney said. ‘We’ve got a war room that’s got every English coach you can imagine – based here and based internationally. It’s got contracts and all sorts of things. There’s a very definite plan.

‘We believe we’ve got such a wealth of English coaches in the game. As a leading rugby nation, we should be developing English coaches and an English style of play. That should be long-term and therefore the preference would be to have an English set-up as far as I’m concerned.’

Following another disappointing Six Nations campaign, there have been widespread calls to replace Jones before next year’s World Cup in France.

However, Sweeney doubled down on his support for the Australian coach and ruled out an immediate move for the likes of New Zealanders Gatland or Steve Hansen. Jones is one of the highest paid coaches in world rugby but Sweeney insisted the RFU are not financially handcuffed by an expensive termination clause in his contract.

‘Warren Gatland hasn’t been approached because we believe that Eddie’s the person to take us through to 2023,’ Sweeney said.

‘There’s nothing financially that would have an impact on a decision. Because Eddie’s been here for a length of time, he’s subject to UK employment law. He’s got a notice period in his contract. You don’t have to exercise a break clause. Financial concerns on this are not an issue. It’s not something that would determine a decision.’

While Jones retains the support of his paymasters at the RFU, his support among the English rugby public is at an all-time low.

Jones feels he is judged more harshly because he is Australian and the RFU are conscious that his successor needs a better rapport with the outside world.

‘If you could create your nirvana, you’d have a coach who every single fan in the country absolutely loves,’ Sweeney said.

RFU boss Bill Sweeney (right, pictured with Jones last year) says a succession plan is in place

‘He’d have heritage in 17 different counties so they’d love him in Yorkshire as much as they’d love him in Cornwall. Of course that would be fantastic.

‘You’re not always going to get that. Gareth Southgate has been fantastic for the FA with his rapport and the rebuilding of that organisation. I wouldn’t write off Eddie completely in terms of the fans. I know he’s controversial and he polarises massively but I don’t think every fan in the country hates him.’

Senior England players have spoken in support of Jones, while in the Six Nations the absence of powerful centres to replace Manu Tuilagi was a major concern.

Since taking the England job in 2015, Jones has worked with 16 assistant coaches, including 10 Englishmen who meet the RFU’s home-grown criteria. Sweeney will seek Jones’s advice, but he will not have a say in the appointment.

‘Absolutely he’ll have an opinion,’ Sweeney said. ‘He may think one coach may have a better rapport, or another coach may suit better the style of play we’re trying to implement.

The decision to pursue an English homegrown coach rules out a move to get Warren Gatland

‘We would be crazy not to get that opinion in, but how much is taken on board is up to us. He won’t have a say in the appointment.’

Sweeney is as part of a panel reviewing Jones’ Six Nations performance. The other members of review panel have, perhaps contentiously, asked to remain anonymous but Sweeney defended the right for any report to remain private.

‘The heat around Eddie is quite significant,’ he said. ‘If you have a panel and you put your name to it and the statement comes out saying we are supporting Eddie through to 2023, then people will disagree with it. Some may not want to do that publicly.

‘A lot of them go back to 2011 when there was a World Cup review which became quite controversial and public. It’s not meant to be administration by stealth. It is not supposed to be clandestine, we are not hiding anything.’

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