England part ways with assistant coaches Simon Amor and Jason Ryles after worst-ever Six Nations

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Simon Amor had been England's attack coach since the 2019 Rugby World Cup - GETTY IMAGES
Simon Amor had been England's attack coach since the 2019 Rugby World Cup - GETTY IMAGES

England attack coach Simon Amor and skills coach Jason Ryles have both left their roles with the national men's side, the RFU announced on Friday, as England look to move on from their worst-ever Six Nations campaign.

Regarding Amor, the RFU stated that the two parties had "mutually decided to part company so that he can explore new opportunities".

Amor was appointed following the 2019 Rugby World Cup but England's attack has been frequently criticised since then, particularly during this year's Six Nations.

He was previously England Men's Sevens head coach between 2013 and 2019, and also led Team GB to a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Amor said: “My seven and a half years with the RFU has been a fantastic experience. Leading the England Sevens programme to success, including all we achieved culturally, and bringing together the men’s and women’s game, is something I look back on with real pride.

“I will always be grateful to Eddie for providing me with the opportunity to coach my country’s senior XVs team and to further develop my skills amongst some of the best and most experienced players and coaches in the game."

Ryles joined the coaching staff in October 2020 and was part of the conclusion of the 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup campaign, but remained in Australia during this year's Six Nations to be with his family amid the uncertainty surrounding international travel due to Covid-19.

England head coach Eddie Jones will oversee the attack for the team's summer Test matches against USA and Canada, with John Mitchell and Matt Proudfoot continuing as assistant coaches.

Jones said: “I’d like to thank Simon and Jason for their contributions to England. I would like to commend Simon’s outstanding diligence and his hard work, and I have no doubt he will find a role soon that suits him perfectly.

“With Jason, the COVID-19 restrictions have proved too difficult for him and his family to overcome, which we fully understand but are disappointed for us and the team. They both leave with the best wishes of everyone involved with England and for their future pursuits in the game.”

Wasps assistant coach Martin Gleeson has previously been linked with an attacking coach role in England's setup, with Wasps denying last month they had been approached by the RFU regarding Gleeson.

Meanwhile Mike Brown, the Harlequins full-back banned for six matches earlier this week for stamping on the head of Wasps' Tommy Taylor, during his disciplinary hearing described his approach to the game as "hard, tough and physical but never overstepping the mark and always being respectful to opponents", and that his actions were not deliberate.

The disciplinary panel agreed with Brown's assessment, ruling that his actions were reckless. Harlequins announced that both club and player will now carefully consider their position, with Brown as things stand having played his last game for the club after 17 years with Harlequins, ahead of his move to Newcastle Falcons this summer.

Comment: Changing coaches has worked wonders before - and it needs to again

By Gavin Mairs

So once again Eddie Jones is on the search for a new coach – and his next appointment is likely to be the most important of his tenure with England.

The departure of both Simon Amor and Jason Ryles was an inevitable consequence of England’s poor Six Nations Championship once the Rugby Football Union decided to stick by their head coach.

England have failed to evolve or kick on over the last 18 months from their World Cup final defeat by South Africa, a stagnation that has been made more apparent by the progress made by all of their other Six Nations rivals apart from Italy.

There are echoes here of 2018, when after two trailblazing seasons, England crashed from a great height, finishing fifth in the Six Nations and losing the Test series in South Africa.

The departure of Paul Gustard at that seminal moment allowed Jones to freshen up his coaching ticket and the hiring of John Mitchell and Scott Wisemantel, injected both worldly experience and attacking innovation to the England camp.

The pair had a profound impact, taking England to the verge of World Cup glory, with Wisemantel’s influence as a bright and breezy personality capable of pushing the attacking boundaries sorely missed when the Australian decided to return to his homeland after the tournament in Japan.

Amor, who was already on the RFU’s books as England Sevens coach, was given a tough act to follow and it is clear that Wisemantel has been sorely missed over the last 18 months.

Yet while Jones is now in the process of searching for a new attack coach – he will undertake that duty this summer for the two Tests – and as we are approaching the mid-point of the World Cup cycle again – it is an appointment that could define his England tenure.

Jones cannot afford to get this one wrong and it is critical that he recruits not just the coach with the right skill set but also the right personality to bring the best out of the head coach himself.

For if Wisemantel has been missed, those who have worked with Jones insist the biggest loss since the World Cup has been Steve Borthwick, who left to join Leicester Tigers.

Borthwick has been described as the glue behind Jones’ tenure. He was the assistant, the good lieutenant, who was able to transfer the “mercurial genius” and knowledge and brain-storming chaos of Jones into something that works on the training pitch.

It was an understated role but it is only now that he has gone that the significance of his influence has become evident.

England would no doubt benefit from another Wisemantel, but in the mission to reignite their form in the countdown to France 2023, what they desperately need is another Borthwick.