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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Duncan Bech

Eddie Jones leaves England role as Steve Borthwick waits in the wings

PA Archive

Eddie Jones has been sacked as the head coach of England less than a year out from the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick set to replace him.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) decided to part ways with the Australian after seven years in charge, following a review of England’s dismal autumn results.

Jones has recorded the best win rate of any England head coach but results had taken a turn as they entered the final year of the World Cup cycle.

The dismissal is not without precedent as, in 2006 – just a year before the World Cup – Andy Robinson was relieved of his duties after autumn losses to New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa, with England going on to make the final of the following’s year’s global showpiece.

The current version of England were booed off following their 27-13 defeat to South Africa last month, their sixth loss of 2022, and the team have recorded their worst set of results since 2008 this year.

It marks a remarkable change of heart from the RFU who, despite the side’s dismal performance in this year’s Six Nations, had strongly backed Jones in their post-championship review - insisting the team were heading in the right direction. An improvement followed in the summer as England won a Test series in Australia against an injury-riddled Wallabies side but a dismal set of autumn internationals saw just one win – over Japan – and sealed Jones’s fate.

An RFU statement at 11.30am on Tuesday confirmed the news, saying: “Following a review of the Autumn, Eddie Jones has been dismissed from the position of England men’s head coach.

“The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will now conclude the long-term work it has been undertaking on coach succession planning with changes set to be announced in the near future. In the interim, Richard Cockerill will take over the day to day running of the men’s performance team.”

In a short comment on the decision, Jones said: “I am pleased with much that we have achieved as an England team and I look forward to watching the team’s performance in the future. Many of the players and I will no doubt keep in touch and I wish them all well in their future careers.”

RFU CEO, Bill Sweeney added: “It is important to recognise the huge contribution Eddie has made to English rugby, winning three Six Nations Championships, one Grand Slam and taking us to a Rugby World Cup Final.

“He has the highest win ratio of any previous England head coach and has helped develop the leadership skills of many players and coaches. I am grateful to Eddie for all he has done for England across many areas of the game and the professional way in which he has approached reviewing the performance of the team. He has provided the panel with astute insight and meaningful lessons that will support the team performance going forward.”

It is now expected that Borthwick will take the helm with just nine months until the World Cup. A former England captain in his playing days, Borthwick led Tigers to the Gallagher Premiership title last season after taking over the role in 2020, having served as England’s forwards coach under Jones for five years from 2015.

Steve Borthwick is set to take over the England job (PA Wire)

It is not known whether Borthwick will keep Jones’s team of coaching assistants – including Richard Cockerill, Matt Proudfoot and Martin Gleeson – or bring in his own lieutenants, with the likes of Kevin Sinfield (defence), Aled Walters (strength and conditioning) and player-coach Richard Wigglesworth (attack) all highly regarded.

Warren Gatland had been linked with the role amid England’s poor form but he has stunningly returned to Wales, following the departure of Wayne Pivac on Monday.

Jones led England to the World Cup final in 2019 as well as a Six Nations grand slam in 2016 but things turned sour in recent times and the clamour for him to depart eventually became too much.

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