RFU in no rush to extend Jones' deal

A dejected England coach Eddie Jones after his team's drubbing by South Africa in last month's Rugby World Cup final. He was Australia's coach when they lost to England in the 2003 final. PHOTO: REUTERS
A dejected England coach Eddie Jones after his team's drubbing by South Africa in last month's Rugby World Cup final. He was Australia's coach when they lost to England in the 2003 final.PHOTO: REUTERS

TWICKENHAM • England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief Bill Sweeney has said the example of South Africa's World Cup-winning supremo Rassie Erasmus means they can avoid rushing into a decision on whether Eddie Jones will still be in charge for the 2023 edition in France.

Australian Jones took England all the way to this year's final in Japan, only for his side to be overwhelmed 32-12 last month by the resurgent Springboks.

The 59-year-old coach's current contract runs until 2021 and there are those who argue the team would benefit from knowing as soon as possible whether he will be in charge for the next World Cup.

But with Erasmus having guided South Africa out of one of the worst periods in their rugby history to world champions in a mere 18 months, and the recent appointment of Ian Foster as the new coach of New Zealand on just a two-year contract, Sweeney insisted on Tuesday there was no hurry to extend Jones' deal.

"At this stage, why would you do that now?" Sweeney said at Twickenham. "New Zealand have just appointed Foster on a two-year contract. Erasmus came in 18 months before the World Cup. Is it better to have someone in there for the four-year period leading up to it?

"It may well be, more stability, but I wouldn't say there is a date in the diary when we have to make a decision otherwise we're not going to be ready for France."

Last month's reverse was England's third defeat in four World Cup final appearances, with their lone success coming when they beat an Australia side coached by Jones in the 2003 showpiece.

But it represented a vast improvement on their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 edition, a performance that led to Jones' appointment as England coach following the sacking of Stuart Lancaster.

"From December 2015, if you look at where we were when he came in, he's done an outstanding job," said Sweeney. "But we'll look at the various pros and cons and make a decision in the best interests of England rugby."

Jones is a notoriously demanding coach but Sweeney said a two-day tournament debrief after the World Cup, which featured anonymous input from 27 of the 32-man squad in Japan, had been "overwhelmingly positive".

Earlier this month, Jones revealed he had been contacted by Rugby Australia with a view to replacing Michael Cheika as the Wallabies coach but said he was "committed" to England.

Kiwi Dave Rennie has taken over from Cheika.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2019, with the headline 'RFU in no rush to extend Jones' deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe