Eddie Jones faces axe if England flop at next year’s World Cup | Rugby Union | Sport

1 month ago

The Australian, originally signed up until that tournament, is now tied to Twickenham until 2021 but the RFU are wary of what happened to Stuart Lancaster and England at the last tournament in 2015.

Jones’s new deal contains a performance clause and although the RFU are coy about what constitutes success, a repeat of their dismal early exit in their own tournament would surely spell curtains for Jones.

England look like being ranked No2 in the world by the time the Japan World Cup comes around, so a semi-final spot at least is a realistic expectation.

Lancaster and his assistants signed contracts until 2020 before the 2015 tournament but they meant little when they failed to make it out of their pool.

The new RFU chief executive Steve Brown has shown a very un-English trait in stating that his aim is to win the World Cup.

And Jones is expected to deliver in Japan or he will be heading out of the Twickenham doors and the search for his successor is already on.

But Brown was keen to stress the union were not preparing to fail by putting the clause in Jones’s deal.

“There are always key objectives and targets you have to deliver and if you fail there is inherently a performance element,” he said.

“But we’ve been quite explicit given the nature of what this is about pretty much from Eddie’s appointment – to get back in shape to win the 2019 World Cup. So it wasn’t a difficult discussion.

“It’s complimentary rather than at odds. This is not a plan for failure, it’s a plan for success.

“A part we learned from the past was the performance break clause we would need to have in the agreement. We have been clear about that. Eddie and I have had discussions and we are really clear about what that break clause means if we don’t succeed in 2019.

“The focus completely is on winning the World Cup. There are some specific elements of that contract that are not appropriate to share but we are very clear about what those terms are and the outcome if we do not succeed.”

The RFU want to appoint the man to replace Jones in the 2019-20 season so he can work in tandem with the Australian and learn the ropes ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

It is a similar system to one employed by the All Blacks whereby Steve Hansen succeeded Graham Henry in 2011 after being one of his assistants.

Rob Baxter, the Exeter director of rugby, is flavour of the month after winning the Premiership last season and has already toured with England, to Argentina in 2013, under Lancaster.

England have never had a succession plan in place. The closest they have come is when Andy Robinson took over from Clive Woodward in 2004 after the World Cup-winning coach stormed out of the job.

Brown will consult with Jones about who to bring in so that the handover in 2021 is as seamless as possible, but said the new man does not have to be English.

“We absolutely needed a succession process, we have not had that before,” he said. “In the past we have tended to have this disruptive reset of our coaching teams at the end of every four-year cycle. We wanted to avoid that and also have a smooth transition into the next head coach.

“This is the best possible solution for England. It’s a plan for success but also a plan for succession, which is pretty key and a first for the RFU.

“We have learnt so much from having Eddie in this role. We want the best coach for England, not necessarily the best English coach.” 

Whoever England bring in Jones was quick to remind them of the pecking order while he is still in the job.

“As long as I’m head coach I have the ultimate say. That’s quite simple,” he said. “When I am not the head coach I will not have the ultimate say, so it could not be more black and white than that.”