England risk missing out on the chance to recruit Warren Gatland as their head coach after the Rugby Football Union revealed Eddie Jones’s successor would not be appointed until after the World Cup.
Jones is contracted until 2021 but there is a break clause enabling his removal if the team underperforms at Japan 2019, while the Australian himself has made repeated claims that his future is uncertain.
According to acting RFU chief executive Nigel Melville next year’s summer tour to Japan appears to be the desired transition point for the incoming coach with Jones taking charge of the Six Nations before departing.
However, Melville insists there is an alternative plan ready in case England suffer another World Cup collapse.
While Twickenham plots an increasingly confused route to succession, France and the Lions are in hot pursuit of Gatland, the most successful coach in Six Nations history, who recently clinched a third Grand Slam as Wales boss.
Gatland and his outstanding assistant Shaun Edwards are both available after the World Cup, but Melville insists the Kiwi’s availability is “not a concern”.
“The Warren thing – is Warren going to do the Lions? Is Warren going to France? Is Warren coming to England? Is Warren doing all sorts?” Melville said. “At this point that is not a concern to me. There’s more than one coach out there who we are looking at.
“We will decide what is happening with Eddie post World Cup. We have got a list of people who we think could take over. It’s a small list because there aren’t lots of coaches out there who are capable of coaching England.”