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England RWC: 'Eddie may stay and they may want him'

By Chris Jones
Eddie Jones (PA)

Dean Richards has raised the possibility of Eddie Jones continuing in his role as England head coach if he wins the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and does not support the view that a successor has to be English.

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That is the aim of Bill Sweeney, the Rugby Football Union chief executive who has stated that: “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. That should be long-term and therefore the preference would be to have an English set-up, as far as I’m concerned.”

Richards, who won 48 England caps and has unrivalled experience as a director of rugby in the Premiership, takes a different view and believes English success at the World Cup would erase the memory of two successive poor Six Nations finishes for Jones.

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He explained: “Ultimately, the run through to the quarter and semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup (for England) seems pretty simple at the moment and if
you are within two matches of winning a World Cup then everything will be
forgotten. Eddie may stay and they may want him to.”

If Sweeney and the panel sitting in judgement of Jones decide he should end his tenure after the World Cup in France then Richards wants the selection to be open to all candidates. “It must be the most suitable coach to win us a World Cup as simple as that,” he added. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be English but they need an understanding of what the English culture is and the psyche to get the best out of the English (players).

“It is giving that clear pathway to understand what it takes to become an international player. There are a number of candidates – a lot of them English – and some foreign guys as well. I don’t think they necessarily have to have operated at international level but there has to be an understanding of their capabilities and if they match the criteria you have put in place.

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“It is difficult at times to perceive how good a person can be by just
watching them working alongside an international head coach. The strengths
that you gain from being a director of rugby or head coach in the Premiership are absolutely massive because it is different to any other sport. But you have to work out if those strengths and weaknesses you gain in the Premiership are going to be needed at international level because they are very different.

“It is about what criteria they put in place and if think there are guys out
there who would fit the bill who have worked in international rugby in the
past and those who haven’t.”

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