•Jones staying on ‘makes sense’, says RFU chief Bill Sweeney
•England head coach is currently under contract until 2021
TheRugby Football Unionwill hold urgent talks with Eddie Jones over continuing as England’s head coach through to the 2023 World Cup with the chief executive Bill Sweeney admitting it “makes sense” for him to stay on.
Jones guided England to their first World Cup final since 2007 in Japan, four years after their failure to get out of the pool stage on home soil. There is a growing clamor in Australia for Jones to return as the Wallabies head coach but the 59 – year-old is contracted until 2021 and Sweeney expects him to at the very least honor his current deal.
England are due to fly home on Monday and Sweeney revealed he plans to meet Jones in the coming days to map out the coach’s future. If he were to leave at the end of his current deal it would give England only two years to prepare for France 2023 and Sweeney revealed there is no plan for a successor to work under Jones before taking over in 2021, as was the intention under the previous chief executive, Steve Brown.
With interest from other nations and with Jones’s stock on the rise despiteSaturday’s comprehensive defeat by the Springboks, he could command an increase in his £ 750, 000 – a-year salary and Sweeney admitted resolving his head coach’s future is among his top priority.
He said: “It makes sense doesn’t it? If you’re going to go through to France 2023 it’s nice to have that unbroken stretch but both parties have got to be completely happy with it and we’ll chat about that when we get back. One of the first priority will be to sit down and have a chat. We will do it as a matter of urgency. You don’t like these things to hang out there for a long period of time anyway, so it will be sooner rather than later. ”
Of Jones’s link to the vacant Australia job, Sweeney added: “He’s one of the world’s best coaches, if not the best coach, despite the result [in the final]. When you’re in that position, you’re going to have people sniffing around and you can imagine the story Australia would put together. I don’t lose any sleep over other countries thinking about him. ”
Jones will have a new-look coaching staff for next year’s Six Nations with his scrum coach Neal Hatley returning to Bath and Steve Borthwick strongly linked with a move to Leicester Tigers. Scott Wisemantel’s contract as attack coach has also now expired and while Sweeney admitted he has not spoken to Borthwick – who is a full-time RFU employee – about his future, he revealed Jones is close to making new appointments. “Even before we came here and during the tournament here, [Eddie] is already drawing up his plans about what that coaching team will be,” he said. “He’s got some names in the frame and some of them have been spoken to already.”
As well as holding talks with Jones, Sweeney also intends to set up a review panel to look into England’s performance at the World Cup. Jones’s side surpassed expectations by beating New Zealand to reach the final but the RFU plans to meet all of the players to review the campaign. Sweeney was adamant he would not be holding a “postmortem” over why England failed to produce a performance of note in the final. He added: “I’ve been very close to this particular campaign so I’m not expecting anything in there that is going to shock us, but it would be remiss of us if we didn’t look at everything.”
Jones’s spending on the World Cup campaign is thought to have run over budget by around £ 1m despite the RFU making cuts of more than £ 10 m and last year announcing more than 50 redundancies . The union is set to take a further hit this year because it loses out on ticketing revenue without any autumn internationals but Sweeney said funding for England’s 2023 campaign would not be cut.
The chief executive was unable to put a monetary figure on the difference between England winning and losing against South Africa but believes finances will be boosted by their run to the final and hopes to see an impact on participation numbers.
He also confirmed Will Carling, who works with England as a leadership mentor, would continue to seek outside donations from the City. “He’s got a very good black book,” said Sweeney. “He’s well connected and it’s not an unusual thing to do. If you look at all the various ways we generate revenue, I can see him doing that and we’ll encourage it. ”