Eddie Jones becomes new England head coach

Eddie Jones is England's new head coach.
Eddie Jones is England's new head coach.
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Eddie Jones has become England’s first overseas head coach after the Australian signed a four-year contract with the Rugby Football Union that will conclude with the next World Cup.

Jones travelled to London on Thursday to finalise negotiations, including the level of compensation to be paid to the Stormers for early release from his long-term contract with the Cape Town-based Super Rugby franchise.

The 55-year-old, who re-established himself among the top tier of international coaches through Japan’s outstanding World Cup, will be presented to the media at Friday lunchtime with the identity of his assistants a key item on the agenda.

Stuart Lancaster stepped down last week after the hosts exited England 2015 at the group stage, but the Cumbrian’s lieutenants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt have remained in place and their fates are to be decided by Jones.

Steve Borthwick, who distinguished himself working beneath Jones with Japan and now employed by Bristol, is expected to be recruited as forwards coach.

“The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world’s most high profile international rugby job doesn’t come along every day and I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity,” said Jones, whose contract begins in December.

“I’m now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game.

“I believe the future is bright for England.’’

The RFU’s search was shaped by the determination of chief executive Ian Ritchie to hire a coach of “proven international experience”. Jones fulfils that criteria following spells with Australia, South Africa and Japan that straddle three World Cups.

In 2003 he guided the Wallabies to the Sydney final, where they lost to England, and four years later he played an advisory role as the Springboks were crowned world champions for a second time.

Arguably his finest hour arrived this autumn, however, when presiding over the biggest upset in rugby history as over-achieving Japan stunned South Africa 34-32 before masterminding further victories over Samoa and the USA.

Jones became the obvious choice to succeed Lancaster once a string of high-calibre alternatives - among them Warren Gatland, Steve Hansen and Michael Cheika - withdrew from the running.

“We promised to recruit a coach with proven international experience and we have done that,” Ritchie said.

“Eddie is a world-class coach, with extensive experience at the highest level with Australia, South Africa and Japan.

“We believe that the appointment, which was unanimously approved by the RFU board, is the right one to bring England success in the short, medium and long term.

“We are confident Eddie can build on the strong foundations already laid, with this talented group of players largely remaining together through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and beyond.

“We are grateful to the Stormers for their co-operation in releasing Eddie early from his contract.”

Jones, who has also coached at Saracens, the Brumbies and Reds, was barely one week into a long-term contract with the Stormers, who he joined after completing his stewardship with Japan.

“When I was appointed at Western Province Rugby there was no vacancy within England and I never envisaged this opportunity to come forward,” Jones said.

“I remain very grateful to WP for this opportunity and I would sincerely like to apologise to anyone that might have been affected by my sudden decision to leave Cape Town. I have been treated so well in my short stay.”