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Eddie Jones' England fate may already be sealed

By Ian Cameron
Eddie Jones, the England head coach looks on during the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Many news sources in the UK are reporting that England head coach Eddie Jones appears to be set to be axed when he faces a formal review on Monday.

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According to Chris Foy in the Daily Mail, Jones himself now expects to be sacked at the meeting following a dismal Autumn Nation Series for England in which they won just one game. 2022 has been the worst year for England Rugby at Test level since 2008 and it comes after two years of see-sawing fortunes for the men on white since they contested the Rugby World Cup final in Japan.

Gavin Mairs and Ben Coles report in The Telegraph that Leicester Tigers’ head coach Steve Borthwick – Jones’ former forwards coach – as favourite to take over the reins.

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Other reports earlier this week had named Chiefs director of rugby Warren Gatland as in the front runner for the Australian’s job , although he also appears to be in the running for Wayne Pivac’s job, should the New Zealander be given his marching orders by the WRU.

Jones’ strained relationship with RFU CEO Bill Sweeney will certainly not help matters. On Thursday Sweeney reportedly received an apology from Jones’ media advisor after a serious allegation attacking the England rugby chief was written in the comments section at the bottom of an online Times UK article that was published earlier this week.

Sweeney admitted “results are not where we expect them to be” and Sir Clive Woodward, who masterminded England’s solitary World Cup win 19 years ago, was yet again fierce in his criticism of his old rival Jones after the match.

Woodward labelled rugby in England as a shambles and insisted the weekend defeat was “one of the most depressing games I’ve seen at HQ”.

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Jones, who has already agreed to step down after the 2023 World Cup in France, told Men’s Health UK: “I feel sad for him (Woodward). If that is the best thing he has to do in his life, then he hasn’t a lot to do.”

The pair’s rivalry stretches back a long way, with Woodward having coached England to their World Cup final win in 2003 over Australia, then led by Jones, after a tournament in which they sniped at each other.

“I’m 62 now and in pure coaching terms I am coaching better than I ever have. Results aren’t always perfect, but I’m happy with how I have been coaching,” Jones said. “After this, I want to do something really meaningful. I’ve enjoyed England a lot, it was a bit of a rescue job at the start, now rebuilding, and I am confident I will leave things in good shape.”

England were booed off at Twickenham after defeat to the Springboks, which meant their record for 2022 finished at five wins, one draw and six losses.

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Scotland, Ireland, France, Australia, Argentina and South Africa have all beaten the World Cup runners-up during the past 12 months but Jones believes they can still be a force at next year’s tournament.

Currently the fifth favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, England will avoid the front-runners until the semi-final stage, with one of Australia, Wales or Fiji a probable last-eight opponent in France.

“If this was the Cheltenham Gold Cup, there’s a pack of four out front – France, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand – and we are fifth, right behind them, right on the rails,” Jones said.

“A good position, provided we keep improving.

In his column for RugbyPass this week, former World Cup winner Jake White, who himself faced calls for his job back in 2006, believes that the end of the road has come for his former coaching colleague.

“The RFU need to make a decision. My gut feeling is he is in trouble. If the World Cup wasn’t less than a year away, he’d be gone,” wrote White.  “That is a fact. If the World Cup was two years away, he’d be out of there. If the board don’t act and England have a poor Six Nations, they will come under serious fire for not acting earlier. The voices for change are becoming louder and louder.”

The sentiment on Twitter is little better for Jones, although a few voices are supporting Jones’ staying on in the roll despite his recent run of poor results.

“Ngl [Not going to lie] the biased Welsh fan in me really hopes England do get rid of Eddie Jones,” wrote Will Owen. “He’s a cut above virtually any other coach in the entire sport, and crucial to their chances of winning a RWC. He just doesn’t give a shit about any other tournaments.”

All eyes will on Twickenham this week. Jones will face the music on Monday and the RFU panel will confirm the decision on Tuesday.

additional reporting AAP

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