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Gatland leads McGeechan's theoretical three-man shortlist for England job

By Ian Cameron
Warren Gatland (Photos/Gettys Images)

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British & Irish Lions guru Sir Ian McGeechan has said that Warren Gatland would be top of his list, if England had to pick a successor to Eddie Jones ‘tomorrow’.


Jones will lead England to the next Rugby World Cup in France in 2023, but the conversation about who will ultimately replace him is starting to gear up.

Despite his heavily criticised tactics in South Africa this summer, Lions head coach Gatland has been given McGeechan’s seal of approval in his Telegraph column, were England forced to choose a successor now.

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Gatland choosing to try to beat the Springboks at their own game in the Test series was viewed as too conservative an approach by many, especially in light of Dave Rennie’s Wallabies beating them twice in a row playing ball in hand rugby.

“I do not think there is any single ‘right’ approach. England need to take the best candidate available whether from home or abroad, whether he is English or Kiwi, whether he has worked within the system or not,” McGeechan writes in his Telegraph.  “If you were offering the job to someone tomorrow, the person at the top of my list, for a two-year appointment to take England to the next World Cup, would probably be Warren Gatland.

“Simply because Gats has the experience, the track record, knows the players, would be able to gel everyone together and is reasonably available.”

Yet Gatland is just one of three people McGeechan could see leading England in 2023, with the Scot also keen on recently exited England defence coach John Mitchell and current Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.


“But the RFU is looking to appoint someone in two years’ time. That opens up a whole raft of potential candidates.”

McGeechan also mentioned Rob Baxter and Mark McCall, although he suggested they may wish to continue their highly successful club roles into the future.

“Certainly, if either was interested, he should come under consideration. The two other big hitters, and again they would be near the top of my list if you were offering the role to someone tomorrow, would be John Mitchell and Andy Farrell.

“They have experience of working within the England set-up, the former under Eddie, which would ensure a measure of continuity. command respect.”


Mitchell, who exited England in July having privately given his notice behind closed doors six months earlier – as RugbyPass understands – after he became disillusioned with his role under Jones who took heavy flak after England’s most recent Six Nations championship.

Now at Wasps, his return to England as head coach in 2023 after just two years away might seem a stretch.

“Coaches who might be deemed too young or inexperienced now – Lee Blackett, Alex Sanderson, Steve Borthwick – could come into the reckoning if they continue to impress at their clubs.”




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