England players to have say on Eddie Jones’ future

Eddie Jones - England players to have say on Eddie Jones’ future - Alex Davidson/Getty Images
Eddie Jones - England players to have say on Eddie Jones’ future - Alex Davidson/Getty Images

England’s players will have a key input into the review process that could seal the fate of head coach Eddie Jones on Monday – and the appointment of his successor if the Australian is dismissed.

Jones is fighting for his job ahead of a crunch meeting with RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney on Monday and will present his plan through to the World Cup in France next year, with Steve Borthwick understood to be the leading candidate to replace him.

Jones appears to be resigned to his fate however after England finished the year with their worst record in a calendar year since 2008 with five wins, a draw and six defeats, including a second successive fifth-place finish in the Six Nations Championship.

Sweeney has led a review along with an anonymous panel into the national side’s poor autumn series and it is understood that Conor O’Shea, the Rugby Football Union’s director of performance, has guaranteed anonymity to any player providing feedback to the review into England’s poor autumn series, with just one win against Japan.

Player input may strengthen Borthwick’s hand

The input of the England players is also likely to have an influential role in the review process and this should strengthen Borthwick’s hand. He is known to be highly regarded by the playing group and also has detailed knowledge of the Premiership having guided Leicester Tigers to the Premiership title last season.

The RFU have already held discussions with Borthwick, who had been lined up to succeed Jones when his contract ends after the World Cup in France next year and are now considering fast-tracking that appointment.

The Leicester Tigers’ director of rugby, who was Jones’ right-hand man at Japan and then for four years with England, would be best-placed to hit the ground running if the Australian is sacked with just five competitive matches left before the World Cup.

The only other contender is Warren Gatland and the RFU could be tempted by his impressive track record with Wales and the Lions. However it is thought any role with England would only be a short-term one to the World Cup, which may not appeal to the New Zealander, who is already understood to be considering a return to Wales.

Sources on Sunday night suggested the process could drag out until Wednesday, with Sweeney set to present his recommendations to the RFU board on Tuesday.

After the Tigers’ dramatic 26-26 draw with Bristol on Saturday night, Borthwick sidestepped any talk about his international future.

“Club coaches are always in contact with the RFU,” said Borthwick, downplaying the situation. “We’ve got a big contingent of England players, so I am always talking to them around our players and that’s my focus.”