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Huge payout stands between RFU and Eddie Jones' replacement

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)

A massive payout is one of the main obstacles standing between the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and their preferred replacement for Eddie Jones.

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The RFU are keen to get rid of Jones after a disastrous Autumn Nations Series in which England were booed off the turf at Twickenham after a lacklustre display against the Springboks in their final game.

The men in white won just a single game – against Japan. An impressive fightback in their third game against the All Blacks – which garnered them a draw – was soon wiped from the memory with a dismal display against the World Champions.

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The 62-year-old Jones faces a secret RFU panel tomorrow, with a decision expected to be made on his future on Tuesday. One of the main issues standing in the way of a potential sacking is the need to get a head coach lined up ahead of the Guinness Six Nations, which is just two months away.

The RFU’s preferred target – as widely reported – is current Leicester Tigers boss Steve Borthwick but RugbyPass understands that Leicester want a huge compensation payment to buy him out of his current contract.

Tigers are understandably eager to keep the 43-year-old Cumbrian after he led them from the bottom of the league to a Gallagher Premiership title last season. Borthwick confirmed that he and the RFU had been in regular contact over England players but refused to be drawn on Saturday when quizzed about a formal approach.

There is also the question of the remaining year on the Jones’ contract, which the RFU would likely be expected to honour it even if he is removed from his position this week.

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Money aside, Borthwick would seem like an obvious choice for the top job.

Every high-level England player involved with Tigers has credited the former Saracens lock’s no-nonsense approach for turning the Tigers’ ship around.

“I have obviously been coached by him at England and at Leicester, and he is one of, if not the best, coaches around,” said former Leicester fly-half  George Ford. “The way Steve gives us a plan, and then the way we go about it and practise it in the week. When you go out on game-day, you feel so ready to go and play and win.”

Ellis Genge, prior to leaving for Bristol Bears described Borthwick as ‘relentless’.

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“He is very straight up and down,” said the England prop earlier this year. “There is no beating around the bush. He is just an honest bloke. He has got his morals and stuff, which we all really respect.”

He is also familiar with Jones’ England set-up, having served under Jones as his forward coach before heading to Welford Road in 2020.

Players’ views on Jones could be telling over the next 48 hours. According to The Telegraph, the RFU have asked players for anonymous feedback on the notoriously firey Australian.

If Jones has indeed lost the changing room, his sacking will be a formality.

Borthwick and Jones coached for seven years together with Japan and then with England.

The Carlisle native played in 57 Tests for England at lock from 2001-2010 and captained the side 21 times. Jones was quick to appoint Borthwick as Japan’s forwards coach in 2012 immediately after ending his playing career and it paid off, with Japan going on to record a famous victory over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

He captained Bath, led Saracens and became a Premiership winner in 2001, as well as representing England Schools, Colts U21 and Saxons. He made 265 Premiership appearances, a record at the time.

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