Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Rugby boss 'not concerned' by rumours Australia want England coach Eddie Jones

The head of English rugby's governing body has said he is "not concerned" by reports that the Australian team are looking to appoint Eddie Jones as their coach.

After Australia's quarter-final defeat to England, coach Michael Cheika announced he would be standing down at the end of the year, leading to speculation that the Wallabies would try and poach Jones.

Speaking a day after England lost to South Africa in the World Cup final, Rugby Football Union Chief Executive Bill Sweeney said Jones has two more years left on his contract and hinted at the prospect of a new deal being agreed that will keep him in charge for France 2023.

Rumours are circling that Eddie Jones could return to Australia. Credit: PA

Sweeney praised Jones as "not just a great coach, but an inspirational leader" who has an "outstanding work ethic".

He spoke positively about England's "fantastic run" to the final, despite the "disappointing" result, conceding that "sometimes it's just not your night".

Sweeney added the was "not sure what could have been done differently" by Jones or the team, but said he hoped the loss would be seen as an "inspiration to do better rather than a missed opportunity".

He said that following conversations with Jones, the former Australia player had discussed France 2023.

2019 is South Africa's third World Cup victory. Credit: PA

England were overrun 32-12 by South Africa in Saturday's World Cup final but dismantled Australia and New Zealand en route to reaching the Yokohama showpiece.

Jones has also masterminded one Grand Slam and a Six Nations title since replacing Stuart Lancaster at the end of 2015 and Sweeney still views him as the outstanding candidate for the job.

"Eddie's one of the world's best coaches - if not the best - despite the result against South Africa," Sweeney said.

"One of the first priorities when we get back will be to sit down and have a chat. We will do it as a matter of urgency.

"Eddie is committed to his contract through to the end of August 2021 and he is fulfilling that.

"There are a lot of emotions flying around after a game so let the dust settle a little bit and then see where his head's at, see how he feels about it.

"But the first step is to honour that contract through to 2021 and then we'll discuss what goes on beyond that."

Sweeney said he was 'not sure what could have been done differently' by England in the final. Credit: PA

When asked about the wisdom of appointing a coach for an entire World Cup cycle rather than for a two-year spell, Sweeney said: "It makes sense doesn't it?

"If you're going to go through to France 2023 it's nice to have that unbroken stretch, but both parties have got to be completely happy with it.

"We just need to sit down when we get back, have a couple bottles of red wine and chat about where it goes."

Jones is on the radars of Australia and Fiji but it is the former that could push the most emotive buttons after the 59-year-old spent four years coaching the Wallabies until he was sacked in 2005.

Michael Cheika has stepped down after the quarter-final and there is a sense of unfinished business between Jones and the 1991 and 1999 champions.

"When you're in Eddie's position, you're going to have people sniffing around and you can imagine the story Australia would put together," Sweeney said.

"We can only control our relationship with him and we can only control what we will wrap around him to enable us to perform at our best."

England failed to score a try on Saturday. Credit: PA

Sweeney is convinced there is growth left in the Jones regime following his success in guiding a nation that was knocked of the 2015 World Cup at the group stage into the final four years later.

"Yeah, I do think so. He's done a fantastic job with this squad - look where we were at the last tournament," he said.

"I don't think those scars will ever go from not getting out of the group but look what he's done to bring the team here and some of the risks he's taken.

"He's unearthed some fantastic players who have huge careers ahead with England. He gets on well with that squad, he's committed to England rugby, so he's got an awful lot more to offer yet.

"It's not job done yet, it's a bit like a pipeline and there's other players out there who need to be brought on.

"He's probably going to look to get a pool together of 50-55 players who can go the entire distance so he'll be looking long-term."

England's Tom Curry reacts to the team's loss. Credit: PA

England assistant coaches Neal Hatley and Scott Wisemantel step down from their posts this month and there is also doubt over the future of Steve Borthwick, who has been linked with Leicester.

Talks are already underway with their potential successors and the expectation is that their appointments will be made sooner rather than later.

Apart from the discussions with Jones, Sweeney will implement a review of the World Cup conducted by a "quality panel" that will be overseen by a "highly respected" chairman.

It will take place in mid-November and will include verbal feedback from the 32 players that made up the squad in Japan.

"I've been very close to this particular campaign so I'm not expecting anything in there that is going to shock us," said Sweeney, who has promised to maintain the current level of funding for the England team.

"But it would be remiss of us if we didn't look at everything that has happened and see what we can learn from it and how it can take us forward into 2023."

Sweeney confirmed that former England captain Will Carling will continue to raise funds from the City after generating £250,000 last summer to help fund the World Cup campaign.