England ‘strongly deny’ holding talks with Rassie Erasmus over plan to replace Eddie Jones as head coach

Jack de Menezes
The Independent

England have denied holding any talks with South Africa’s Rassie Erasmus over the World Cup-winner replacing Eddie Jones as head coach after he was spotted at Murrayfield for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup.

Erasmus took the Springboks to glory in Japan three months ago at England’s expense, and has since moved upstairs to a director of rugby role, with Jacques Nienaber installed as head coach.

The 47-year-old is contracted to the South African Rugby Union until the end of 2021, a few months after Jones’s deal with the Rugby Football Union expires, and an image of Erasmus emerged on social media on Saturday with the South African in attendance at England’s 13-6 victory over Scotland. He was spotted speaking to former Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder, who left the RFU for a role with the Scottish Rugby Union, with the assumption being that he was taking the chance to watch the Springboks’ summer opponents in Scotland.

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However, a report emerged overnight that claimed Erasmus has held talks with the RFU about the prospect of replacing the Australian in little over 12 months’ time.

But the RFU denied the claims with a spokesperson telling the Press Association that they “strongly dismiss the story”.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney also issued a statement that left little to doubt, saying: T"he reports are 100 per cent inaccurate. There has been no meeting. There have been no talks whatsoever about any position at the RFU."

Both Jones and Sweeney have been non-committal on who will lead England into the next World Cup in 2023 given Jones’s contract expires at the end of next season, although the expectation is that both parties will agree an extension as long as results do not nose-dive over the course of the next 16 months and Jones still has the desire to lead the national team.

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