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RFU should pay up if Borthwick really wants Nick Evans – Andy Goode

By Andy Goode
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images )

If Steve Borthwick really wants Nick Evans as part of his England coaching team for the Rugby World Cup, he should be there but the RFU needs to pay up. The loan for the Guinness Six Nations was one thing but another similar agreement for the lengthy period spanning the World Cup and all the preparations for it would have been taking the biscuit.


Harlequins will have been financially compensated and would be again but another cobbled-together temporary situation shouldn’t be necessary. It isn’t ideal for anyone and a quick glance at Quins’ results since January shows how damaging it has been for them.

They picked up just three points from a possible 30 in the Gallagher Premiership between him being announced as the England attack coach and last weekend’s win over Newcastle.

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Perhaps the transition has been managed better at Leicester Tigers, who did suffer badly in the immediate aftermath of Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield’s departures but have since bounced back with six straight league wins since the start of February.

Richard Wigglesworth is joining Borthwick’s England coaching team at the end of this season but he was not released for the Six Nations. Instead, he held the fort impressively at Tigers and they are looking good for the playoffs.


I’m sure Harlequins will recognise that they should have managed Evans’ absence better but they shouldn’t have to endure the same short-term upheaval again and be searching for the best way to just plug the gap until he comes back and gets them ticking over again.

If Borthwick wants Evans, the RFU should pay him out of his contract and get him on board properly. That way Harlequins have certainty and can plan accordingly but it is also in Evans’ best interests and the England players will have greater clarity over the plan moving forwards.


It’s a tricky job building your coaching team on the hoof while competing in a Six Nations and preparing for a World Cup but we could do with a bit more clarity generally in that area as coaches are signing up but no job titles are being disclosed.

We know Aled Walters will be head of strength and conditioning and Ian Peel is rumoured to be coming in from Saracens as a forwards specialist – but the rest is less clear.

Wigglesworth worked as attack coach under Borthwick at Leicester but his remit with England hasn’t been confirmed and maybe the head coach had other plans for him if he is trying to get Evans involved in the World Cup… and then there is Felix Jones.

He isn’t arriving from the Springboks until after the World Cup but is currently working as their attack coach. He was a defence consultant when he moved there initially but Sinfield has that role locked down with England, so it’s a fair assumption that he will be involved with the attack.


Clearly, getting the coaching talent signed up is a good thing but how they all slot together isn’t immediately obvious and Evans deserves to be more than just a stop-gap.

He needs to be trusted and given the reins fully too. The former All Blacks fly-half has done wonders with Quins’ attack in recent years but we didn’t see much of the speed and style they are renowned for with England in this year’s Six Nations.


A bit more pragmatism is probably required at international level and it’s tough to hit the ground running when you are appointed at such short notice, but it’s fair to question whether he was constrained by a bit too much rigidity in the structures put in place by Borthwick.

Evidently, Evans impressed or he wouldn’t be getting approached to continue on at the World Cup but his philosophy is centred around the delivery of lightning quick ball (LQB) to create holes and space out wide.

There isn’t much point in appointing him if you aren’t going to give him the scope to implement that or if the game plan is heading in a different direction.

England had more territory than any other team in this year’s Six Nations but only Italy and Wales scored fewer tries – and as many as eight of the 13 tries they did score started with a scrum or a lineout.


Add to that, their average ruck speed of 3.77 seconds was the slowest in the tournament and they made the fewest linebreaks but kicked more in play than anyone else and it didn’t have the numbers or feel of an Evans attack.

I thought he was a great appointment in January – and I still do – but England shouldn’t be trying to get him on the cheap and destabilising his club in the process. The RFU should pay him out of his contract and allow him to fully focus straight away on the job of finally getting England’s attack to click at the World Cup.


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