NEWS

Eddie Jones contract part of a long-term plan

January 18, 2018

English rugby lovers booking corporate hospitality for next month's NatWest Six Nations clash with Wales at Twickenham will have plenty of reason to be excited about the game as the home side seeks to continue a flawless run of victories since Eddie Jones took over two years ago.

While England have gone from strength-to-strength on the field and have a side packed with talent, the man guiding them off it has been a central figure in reviving their fortunes. For that reason, fans should be delighted by news that Jones has agreed a two-year contract extension to take his tenure up to 2021. 

The Australian had been contracted to coach the team until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, but, after winning 22 out of 23 matches so far, he has been offered a new deal by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Accepting it was a straightforward choice, he said. 

He explained: "Coaching England is a dream job for me, and I was delighted to be asked to stay on after the World Cup," he said.

"I have been completely focused on developing a team capable of being the number one rugby team in the world and winning the World Cup in 2019.

"I never take my role as England head coach for granted and did not presume I would be asked to stay on, but, once the conversations started very recently, it was not a difficult decision to make."

Of course, as far as the 2019 World Cup itself goes, nothing much will change: the process will continue of seeking to win matches, fine-tune the team and bring through young talent that can make an impact in Japan. Exploring England's strength in depth has been a key theme of Jones's tenure and has ensured that all promising players get a chance and every effort is made to provide cover in the event of injury to key men.  

This also enables England to go into games with a replacements bench full of 'finishers' - those who can come on not merely to rest those who have put in a hard shift, but to kill off the opposition. They operate in the manner of a footballing 'supersub' who climbs off the bench to score goals against tiring defences. 

What may be of particular interest in the longer run is that the extension is part of a succession plan. There is always a danger in any sport that a new head coach can be appointed primarily because they are very different to the last one, rather than trying to build on the better elements of their predecessor's regime. An example of this might be the disciplinarian approach of Stuart Lancaster in contrast with the more libertarian style of Martin Johnson. 

In this case, however, England intend to have a new coach lined up by 2020 who will follow the Jones style and take things forward in a smooth transition. That could include an external appointment - Jones said he may not necessarily be English - while members of the England coaching staff like Paul Gustard and Steve Borthwick could be developed for the role. 

That may be a couple of years away, but the way the RFU are planning for the future shows that the focus remains intense. It is precisely such attention to detail that could help England beat Wales and go on to land a third successive Six Nations title.

Images: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

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