Exclusive: RFU approach Steve Borthwick to replace sacked Eddie Jones

England's head coach Eddie Jones (right) and coach Steve Borthwick (left) during the Quilter International match at Twickenham Stadium, London - PA
England's head coach Eddie Jones (right) and coach Steve Borthwick (left) during the Quilter International match at Twickenham Stadium, London - PA

By Gavin Mairs (Chief Rugby Correspondent) and Charles Richardson (Rugby Reporter)

Steve Borthwick is expected to be confirmed as the new England head coach by the end of the week after the Rugby Football Union opened negotiations with his club Leicester Tigers, Telegraph Sport can reveal.

Sources close to the process insist that there are likely to be ‘no blockages’ to the deal being concluded swiftly. Leicester have already confirmed privately that they do not intend to stand in Borthwick’s way and the RFU are determined to fast-track a plan to install him as Eddie Jones successor after the Australian was sacked from his position today.

It is understood that the original plan had been for Borthwick to take up his position in May and work alongside Jones as part of the RFU’s ‘Project Everest’ succession plan. However the poor results this autumn and the disconnect between the fans and the England team forced the RFU to bring Jones’ seven-year tenure to a premature end.

Leicester cancelled their scheduled press conference on Tuesday afternoon to preview their Champions Cup match against the Ospreys on Sunday at which Borthwick was due to speak.

Leicester are expected to agree to allow Borthwick to begin negotiations with the RFU once a compensation package is agreed and the 43 year-old could begin discussions with the governing body’s chief executive Bill Sweeney on Wednesday.

It is understood that Sweeney has contacted Andrea Pinchen, the Leicester Tigers chief executive, on Tuesday afternoon.

Richard Cockerill, the England forwards coach, was appointed as interim head coach following Jones’ dismissal on Tuesday morning but that was only ever a holding operation until the negotiations with Borthwick could be opened.

It is likely that the RFU will be keen to offer Borthwick a long-term deal through to the next World Cup in Australia in 2027 with a break clause dependent on results.

It is likely that the RFU will have to offer Leicester well in excess of £200,000 to buy Borthwick out of his contract with the Premiership champions, meaning that the cost of sacking Jones will exceed £1 million.

It is also understood that Leicester are unlikely to allow Borthwick to take his current assistant coaches Kevin Sinfield and Aled Waters.

Leicester are also preparing for an approach for player-coach Richard Wigglesworth, the former England scrum-half, to join Borthwick's new coaching team.

The main sticking points are likely to be the make-up of his assistant coaches. Given that there is less than two months to go until the start of the Six Nations, it may be that Borthwick is prepared to work with the incumbents, which is made up of Cockerill, Martin Gleeson and Matt Proudfoot and the incoming defence coach Brett Hodgson.

The appointment of Borthwick will give the RFU the opportunity to reset relations between Conor O’Shea, the governing body’s director of performance and Sweeney, as well an improving relations between the RFU and the Premiership clubs.

It is understood that Borthwick’s over-riding priority will be to establish a strong relationship with the England players, connecting with them in a similar fashion to the job that Gareth Southgate has done with the national football squad

There are also unlikely to be any complications similar to those that Jones imposed on the RFU with regard to outside commercial interests that were a constant source of friction during his seven-year tenure.

03:52 PM

Thank you for joining us after an eventful day!

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

The RFU decided to part ways with Jones after seven years in charge, following a review of England's dismal autumn campaign.

Follow all the latest reaction below.

03:44 PM

How it unravelled for Eddie Jones

By Charlie Morgan, Senior Rugby Writer

An overbearing World Cup focus

Ultimately, yet undeniably, England peaked a week too early at the 2019 World Cup. After an exceptional semi-final performance against New Zealand, their best of the Jones era, they could not oust South Africa to take the trophy.

Scrum penalties, short-range wastefulness and uncertainty in the kicking exchanges proved too much to overcome and the Springboks were good value for a 32-12 victory. Even if the scoreline was slightly harsh, considering England were in touch at just 18-12 behind on the hour-mark, they could have few complaints.

Quirky selection and problem positions

In the inaugural episode of the Telegraph Rugby Podcast, Jones talked about his scouting visits to Premiership matches and how he could not have his viewing experience clouded by conversation, even with a fellow coach. It would follow that, in matters of selection, there is unlikely to have been telling input from Jones’ peers.

That places quirks such as picking Tom Curry at the base of the scrum and reinforcing a pack with three locks squarely at the feet of Jones. The attempt to breed cohesion between a new midfield axis of Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell was an explicit look to the future at the expense of the present.

03:43 PM

How it unravelled for Eddie Jones

By Charlie Morgan, Senior Rugby Writer

Poor results and a clunky attack

Losses to Ireland, by 17 points, to France, by 12 points, and to South Africa, by 14 points, paint a picture of a team that is adrift of the world’s elite. Besides the grisly win percentage, England’s inability to score tries has been a huge concern for them.

They finished up with 27 tries from their 12 Tests in 2022. That looks middling even before one considers that 12 came in two heavy victories over Italy and Japan. Across 10 matches against Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa, then, England dotted down on 15 occasions.

02:54 PM

In pictures (2020-2022)

2020 - England lost to France in Paris denying them a Grand Slam but they did win the Six Nations for a third and final time under Jones

England head coach Eddie Jones (centre) shares a joke with his players during the training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot - PA
England head coach Eddie Jones (centre) shares a joke with his players during the training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot - PA

2021 - England's malaise sets in. A fifth-placed finish in the Six Nations sees them win just two of their five games. An undefeated run over the autumn against Tonga, Australia and South Africa staves off the wolves.

Eddie Jones, Head Coach of England and Bill Sweeney, CEO of the RFU pictured during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Bristol Bears - Getty Images
Eddie Jones, Head Coach of England and Bill Sweeney, CEO of the RFU pictured during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Bristol Bears - Getty Images

2022 - Another poor Six Nations showing results in a third-placed finish - again with just two wins from five. Green shoots threaten to spring after a summer tour victory over Australia but just one win in four matches in a dour autumn series finally  seals Jones' fate

England's coach Eddie Jones looks on ahead of the Autumn Nations Series International rugby union match between England and South Africa at Twickenham stadium, - AFP
England's coach Eddie Jones looks on ahead of the Autumn Nations Series International rugby union match between England and South Africa at Twickenham stadium, - AFP

02:43 PM

In pictures (2015-2019)

2015 - Eddie Jones was introduced as England's new head coach in November 2015 following the departure of Stuart Lancaster.

Eddie Jones, the new England Rugby head coach, poses at Twickenham Stadium on November 20, 2015 in London, England - Getty Images
Eddie Jones, the new England Rugby head coach, poses at Twickenham Stadium on November 20, 2015 in London, England - Getty Images

2016 - In his first Six Nations in charge he led England to a Grand Slam. A 3-0 series win in Australia followed before a undefeated Autumn campaign.

Eddie Jones, head coach of England smiles after the RBS Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 12, 2016 in London, England - Getty Images
Eddie Jones, head coach of England smiles after the RBS Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 12, 2016 in London, England - Getty Images

2017 - Jones lost his first match as England away to Ireland Dublin as England fell 9-13. Victory would have secured a second straight Grand Slam and world record 19th consecutive victory.

England's Billy Vunipola, left and teammate England's Maro Itoje react after the final whistle following the Six Nations rugby union international match between Ireland and England at the Aviva stadium in Dublin, Ireland - AP
England's Billy Vunipola, left and teammate England's Maro Itoje react after the final whistle following the Six Nations rugby union international match between Ireland and England at the Aviva stadium in Dublin, Ireland - AP

2018 - Jones' tenure threatened to hit the rocks as England finished fifth in the Six Nations before touring South Africa in the summer and losing 2-1. They did beat South Africa in the return fixture late that autumn.

Eddie Jones, Head Coach of England celebrates victory with Chris Ashton of England follwing the Quilter International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium - Getty Images
Eddie Jones, Head Coach of England celebrates victory with Chris Ashton of England follwing the Quilter International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium - Getty Images

2019 - Jones leads England on a remarkable run through the World Cup culminating in a superb semi-final victory over New Zealand. However, they fell at the final hurdle - losing to South Africa.

England coach Eddie Jones and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen shake hands before the Rugby World Cup semifinal at International Yokohama Stadium between New Zealand and England in Yokohama - AP
England coach Eddie Jones and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen shake hands before the Rugby World Cup semifinal at International Yokohama Stadium between New Zealand and England in Yokohama - AP

02:13 PM

The Jones era - in stats

Eddie Jones' seven years in charge were marked some remarkable and truly awful lows.

Here's what the numbers say about the Australian's time as England head coach.

01:51 PM

More reaction - Maggie Alphonsi

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01:24 PM

Have your say...

01:20 PM

'Let class out, let instinct loose'

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01:17 PM

Interesting perspective

Jones has a much higher winning percentage than his four predecessors but the graph below raises the question of how much more he improved the side than they did.

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01:06 PM

'Jones will depart as he arrived: a bundle of contradictions'

Read our Chief Sports Writer Oliver Brown's assessment of Eddie Jones' departure as England head coach.

01:02 PM

Cockerill interview

Only last month, Charles Richardson sat down with the man who is now England's interim head, Richard Cockerill.

"There's nothing worse than assistant coaches that want to be in charge," Cockerill said during hat conversation...

Read that full interview HERE.

12:57 PM

The Southgate comparison

It's interesting to note the parallels between the public opinion around both Eddie Jones and Gareth Southgate.

Last year, Southgate took England to their first major final in 55 years. Yet just a few months ago people were calling for his job after a hapless run of performances.

Fast-forward to now and people are celebrating him as a tournament mastermind.

I'd imagine those who lobbied for Eddie Jones to remain in his job were thinking we'd see something similar at next year's Rugby World Cup.

12:27 PM

Neil Back reacts to Jones sacking

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12:26 PM

Who is Scott Robertson?

Steve Borthwick is the front runner for the England job but with Andy Goode raising the name of Scott Robertson, it might be worth delving into exactly who he's referring to.

Widely acknowledged as one rugby's most innovative and well-regarded names, Robertson is the current coach of the Crusaders in Super Rugby.

Only yesterday, Warren Gatland threw his weight behind Robertson becoming a future All Backs coach but it has been reported he may be on England's radar as a potential Jones replacement.

12:17 PM

'Go get Scott Robertson', says Goode

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12:07 PM

Jones' magnum opus

Eddie Jones' time in charge of England included Grand Slams, Six Nations titles and an unprecedented winning streak.

But this performance in the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Yokohama will always be remembered as his masterpiece.

11:58 AM

'Misguided rhetoric and unfulfilled promises'

England's World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has been a long-term critic of Jones.

“What will Jones’s legacy be? The semi-final victory over New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup was his best performance but unfortunately, he will be remembered for the misguided rhetoric and unfulfilled promises.” Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail. “I don’t think history will remember this period of English rugby too kindly.

“I’m always sorry to see people lose their job but Eddie Jones has been badly distracted since the last World Cup and he’s paid the price. He is a shadow of the Jones I competed with and whose first years with England were so successful and rightfully applauded.

“He became completely focused on the 2023 World Cup and that was a costly error. International rugby is very simple: focus everything on the next game with absolutely zero distractions. The fans who pump the money into the sport didn’t buy his hype.

“He lost focus of simply winning the next game and allowed himself to get distracted by the media, former players, writing books and everything else. It was interesting to hear Arsene Wenger talk about Germany losing games at the football World Cup because they were distracted by political protests. They were not the only ones who took their eye off the ball.”

11:48 AM

Jones' legacy

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11:47 AM

No official approach

It's worth remembering that Leicester are yet to receive any official approach from the RFU about Steve Borthwick, despite his standing as the front runner.

Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of Leicester Tigers looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Wasps at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium - Getty Images
Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of Leicester Tigers looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Wasps at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium - Getty Images

11:43 AM

A tight turnaround

There is 278 days between now and England's World Cup opener against Argentina next year and bare in mind whoever takes over will likely have far shorter than that now that Richard Cockerill has been named interim head coach.

11:34 AM

Eddie Jones reaction

“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.”

11:33 AM

Cockerill interim

The RFU has confirmed Richard Cockerill will take over the role of England head coach in a interim capacity.

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.

Richard Cockerill, Forwards Coach for England looks on prior to the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium - Getty Images
Richard Cockerill, Forwards Coach for England looks on prior to the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium - Getty Images

11:31 AM

RFU statement - Bill Sweeney

"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."

11:28 AM

The South Africa model

Remember, South Africa took a huge leap of faith in appointing Rassie Erasmus as head coach in March 2018 and were rewarded with a World Cup victory in 2019.

A turnaround of such magnitude for England is possible then but the RFU must get its next appointment absolutely bang on.

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus and South Africa's RG Snyman pose with the Webb Ellis Cup they celebrate winning the world cup final - Reuters
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus and South Africa's RG Snyman pose with the Webb Ellis Cup they celebrate winning the world cup final - Reuters

11:24 AM

The Jones' oddities

The Australian become renowned for off-the-wall calls and strange soundbites.

Ben Coles has written a great synopsis of these various oddities. Read it HERE.

11:20 AM

How it unravelled for Jones

As we've mentioned things a got pretty ugly, pretty quickly for Jones this autumn.

But what were the specifics in the breakdown of his tenure?

11:11 AM

This appears fairly prescient

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11:05 AM

Eddie Jones has been sacked

by Ben Coles

Heard from a source close to Jones that the England head coach has now been sacked. He leaves the role after seven years in charge with the highest win percentage of any England men's head coach.

10:59 AM

Eddie O'Sullivan - 'I'd say the players had a say in this'

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10:56 AM

Borthwick the front-runner

by Charles Richardson

With Steve Borthwick the front-runner to replace Eddie Jones as England head coach - and rumours circling that his Leicester lieutenants, Kevin Sinfield and Aled Walters, are being lined up to assist him - Telegraph Sport understands that there still has been no official approach from the RFU to the Tigers.

That might all change later today, however, if - or when - the RFU confirms Eddie Jones' sacking.

10:45 AM

Telegraph Sport has eyes on Eddie this morning

by Charlie Morgan, at Twickenham

Eddie Jones left Rugby House at around 10am and headed to a separate meeting next door in the glass-fronted Formation Bar of The Marriott. After that, at around 10.15am, Jones left The Marriott, jogged to a taxi and was driven away from Twickenham.

10:42 AM

England in a tougher spot than Wales

Make no mistake, getting rid of Jones now is a bigger risk for the RFU than the one Wales took in sacking Wayne Pivac.

The WRU had a proven entity in Gatland to turn to, whereas England have nothing even approaching a candidate of such pedigree.

Borthwick - if he is indeed the pick - may be the right man for the job but in a World Cup year it's undeniably a huge punt for the RFU to take.

10:34 AM

Is this the right time? Matt Giteau thinks not

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10:33 AM

A huge gamble

When you look at the winning percentages of England's last six head coaches you haver to say that the Eddie Jones appointment has to go down as a success for the RFU.

But sacking him just nine months out from a World Cup is a huge gamble but one very much worth taking in the eyes of many.

Sir Clive Woodward - 71 per cent
Andy Robinson - 41 per cent
Brian Ashton - 55 per cent
Martin Johnson - 53 per cent
Stuart Lancaster - 61 per cent
Eddie Jones - 73 per cent

10:26 AM

The leading candidate

Steve Borthwick is the man tipped by many to replace Jones. The former England international worked under the Australian as the national team's forwards coach from 2015 to 2020 before taking the reigns at Leicester Tigers in 2020.

In his second season at Welford Road, Borthwick led Tigers to a Premiership title, further burgeoning his standing as potential England head coach in the making.

England's head coach Eddie Jones (right) and coach Steve Borthwick. Eddie Jones looks set to discover in the next 48 hours whether he will continue as England head coach, amid reports he will be sacked after presiding over the national team’s worst year since 2008 - PA
England's head coach Eddie Jones (right) and coach Steve Borthwick. Eddie Jones looks set to discover in the next 48 hours whether he will continue as England head coach, amid reports he will be sacked after presiding over the national team’s worst year since 2008 - PA

10:16 AM

Thank you Eddie

Jones has helped the launch the careers of several England internationals who have gone on to become household names.

  • Jamie George - 69 [caps under Jones]

  • George Ford - 64

  • Maro Itoje - 62

  • Elliot Daly - 57

  • Kyle Sinckler - 56

  • Courtney Lawes -54

  • Jonny May - 53

  • Henry Slade - 50

10:08 AM

Wales also making moves

Another home nation who has made a significant coaching decision in the last 24 hours is Wales, following the sacking of Wayne Pivac and the re-appointment of Warren Gatland.

The Kiwi was a man many England fans had in mind as a potential successor to Jones but Wales appear to have scooped him up [again] before the RFU even had a chance.

10:02 AM

Better than you expected?

The recent narrative on Jones' tenure has been hugely negative but it is worth pointing out the great success he had as England's head coach.

A World Cup Final in 2019, three Six Nations Championships - including a Grand Slam in 2016 - as well as a 73 per cent winning record in charge of England.

That's better than Sir Clive Woodward....

He even equaled New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test victories in 2017.

09:57 AM

The current state of play

Jones was called to a meeting at Twickenham this morning at 9.30am, where Telegraph Sport understands he will be informed he has been sacked as England's head coach. However, official confirmation of his removal could come as late as tomorrow in the form of a statement form the RFU.

09:56 AM

Have your say

09:50 AM

England's recent record

It's all been pretty ugly for England of late and those results have eventually proved too much for Bill Sweeney and the RFU top brass to bear.

England's last nine results comprising the Autumn Series and Six Nations read thus:

England 13, South Africa 27
England 25, New Zealand 25
England 52, Japan 13
England 29, Argentina 30
France 25, England 13
England 15, Ireland 32
England 23, Wales 19
Italy 0, England 33
Scotland 20, England 17

Something to bare in mind though is that Jones did win a series in Australia as recently as this summer.

09:46 AM

Exit door beckons for Jones

Eddie Jones has arrived at Twickenham for a crunch meeting with the RFU where his fate as England's head coach is set to be sealed.

On Monday, Jones and his assistants presented their findings from the Autumn Nations Series to Sweeney, the RFU's director of performance rugby Conor O'Shea and review panelists, outlining where improvements and refinements needed to be made to the squad ahead of the Six Nations next year, taking questions from those assembled as would normally be the case in most post-Test window reviews.

However, according to those close to Jones, the sense coming out of the meeting was that the RFU's mind had been already made up over his future, despite giving the head coach an audience to outline his plans for the future.

"Short of producing a British birth certificate and buying the Times, I'm not sure he was going to carry the day," a source said.

Jones, having ended a number of careers in the past himself whether players or coaches, is understood to appreciate the RFU's need to make a decision.

This calendar year was England's worst since 2008 and their worst autumn period since 2009.  England won only one of their four Tests this autumn, against Japan, and suffered their worst calendar year since 2008 with five wins from 12 Tests.

Jones’ dismissal follows a similar precedent set by the RFU in 2006 when Andy Robinson was relieved of his duties after autumn losses to New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.

Sir Clive Woodward is among those who believe the decision to sack Jones was the correct one, with the 2003 World Cup-winning coach saying the Australian "has been badly distracted since the last World Cup and he’s paid the price. He is a shadow of the Jones I competed with and whose first years with England were so successful and rightfully applauded".

Steve Borthwick is the strong front-runner to replace his former boss, with the RFU believed to have sounded the Leicester supremo out earlier this year about replacing Jones after the World Cup - although that timeframe has been accelerated somewhat given recent events.

Other contenders for the post include Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, Saracens' Mark McCall and Rob Baxter at Exeter.

Follow our live coverage of all the reaction to Jones' dismissal, news on the potential candidates to replace him and updates and analysis from Telegraph Sport's experts.