RFU chief would prefer Eddie Jones’s replacement to be English

RFU director of performance Conor O’Shea also backs succession plan

English Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney has revealed that an English candidate would be the overwhelming preference to replace Eddie Jones when his contract expires after the 2023 World Cup.

Twickenham has put together a "war room" where succession planning is under way with the objective of appointing the new management team next summer, ensuring they are in place in time for the 2024 Six Nations.

Expanding the number of possible English candidates – who would include Steve Borthwick, Rob Baxter and Richard Cockerill – is that there is no pre-requisite for the new head coach to have international experience.

Sweeney has declined to provide any names for legal reasons but the recruitment process is being conducted with the knowledge of Gallagher Premiership clubs.


“We believe we’ve got such a wealth of English coaches in the game. As a leading rugby nation we should be developing English coaches and an English style of play,” Sweeney said.

“That should be long-term and therefore the preference would be to have an English set-up, as far as I’m concerned.

“There’s a very definite plan. We’ve got a war room that’s got every English coach you can imagine – based here and based internationally.

“It’s got contracts and all sorts of things. We’ve got an advanced succession plan in place.”

Jones will enter next year's World Cup in France with the understanding that there will be no possibility of extending his reign into a ninth year and beyond.

“Eddie is fully aware and knows what we want to do,” RFU director of performance Conor O’Shea said.

"There will be some people who say that will disturb the World Cup prep because people will be looking over their shoulder, but Fabien Galthie was appointed France coach before the 2019 World Cup.

“It’s the right thing to do because we need to get ready for the 2024 Six Nations and the plan for us will be to appoint that coach before summer 2023.

“Whether that’s embedding them into the programme or taking a helicopter view, that’s a discussion to be had.

“We have so many top English coaches who are in a great position. You look across the Premiership and then you see the quality of people overseas. I want them to be English and I believe they should be.”

Sweeney added that the RFU has drawn up a contingency plan in the event of Jones departing between now and the World Cup, although the Australian continues to retain its full support.

“To think we wouldn’t have a plan B would be a little bit crazy,” said Sweeney, who added that the cost of parting company with Jones and appointing new coaches would not deter the RFU from sacking him if that was the correct decision.