Steve Borthwick is set to take charge of England in time for the Six Nations after Twickenham bosses moved swiftly to replace Eddie Jones.
The Cumbrian, who worked for five years with England under Jones between 2015-20, is the No1 choice to restore the nation’s flagging fortunes.
Within hours of dismissing the Australian, RFU boss Bill Sweeney contacted Leicester, where Borthwick is head coach, to start negotiations on an early release.
The Six Nations kicks off eight weeks on Saturday with England at home to Scotland and Sweeney is determined that the jeers which greeted England’s loss to South Africa are turned to cheers.
He must first pay compensation both to Tigers and also to Jones, who had nine months remaining on his contract.
Borthwick won 57 England caps and captained his country between 2008 and 2010 when Martin Johnson was in charge.
The RFU refused to confirm their interest in the 43-year old, who took Leicester from the bottom of the Premiership to the title last season.
Nor to say whether they will look to also bring in Borthwick’s backroom staff of Kevin Sinfield, Richard Wigglesworth and Aled Waters.
Instead, Sweeney put Richard Cockerill in interim charge and praised the "huge contribution" Jones had made since 2015.
“He has the highest win ratio of any previous England head coach and has helped develop the leadership skills of many players and coaches," the chief executive said.
“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.”