RFU bosses are understood to have informal talks scheduled with the front-runners to take up the job after next year’s World Cup in France. Scott Robertson, Ronan O’Gara and Steve Borthwick are seen as the frontrunners, although Warren Gatland and Michael Cheika have also been considered.
The RFU have moved away from their initial stance that Jones’s successor should be English, paving the way for New Zealand’s Robertson and Ireland’s O’Gara to come into sharp focus.
Leicester head coach Borthwick is understood to retain major admiration, however. The former England captain would represent a continuity appointment, given his five years spent working under Jones from 2015 to 2020.
Borthwick’s defence coach at Leicester, Kevin Sinfield, also has strong admirers at the RFU for a backroom role. England chiefs would hope the former rugby league star could be persuaded to make the step to Test level in part of a Borthwick-led coaching ticket should that prove their final choice.
Robertson has led Canterbury Crusaders to six Super Rugby titles to blossom into one of the world’s premier coaches. The 48-year-old would put the All Blacks job top of his wish list, but would be open to the role.
Former Ireland fly-half O’Gara led La Rochelle to the Champions Cup in May with a 24-21 triumph over Leinster, having already enjoyed stints with Racing 92 and the Crusaders.
Lions coach Warren Gatland has recently joked he would not be welcome back in Wales if he so much as considered the England job. The 59-year-old has his eyes open for his next major challenge, and the RFU are known to have run the rule over his suitability. His 12 years with Wales are likely to put him out of the running, but his track record remains compelling.
Argentina coach Cheika has revitalised the Pumas, with August’s 25-18 win over New Zealand a clear highlight. The former Australia boss is cut from the same Randwick club cloth as Jones, and the duo are firm friends, so England would need little explanation on what would await under his leadership.
England, who staged a second-half comeback to draw 25-25 with the All Blacks on Saturday, want to finalise their plans by May.