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RFU statement: England recruit another 2019 Rugby World Cup winner

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

New England boss Steve Borthwick has recruited a second member of the Springboks 2019 World Cup-winning staff after securing a deal to enable Felix Jones to join for the 2024 Guinness Six Nations. Borthwick already has Aled Walters set to arrive from Leicester as head of strength and conditioning ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup along with Richard Wigglesworth.

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He has now added to that staff by securing the services of Jones, who exited Munster at the end of the 2018/19 season and was quickly parachuted into the Springboks set up as a defence consultant by Rassie Erasmus, with whom he had worked at the Irish province.

Jones then continued with South Africa on a long-term contract as an assistant coach in 2020. He was based in the UK where he kept a close eye on the European-based players of South African interest and dealt directly with them on a regular basis, as well joining the Springboks on full national duty during competitions and training camps.

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A statement read: “England Rugby is pleased to announce that men’s head coach Steve Borthwick has appointed Felix Jones to join his coaching team from 2024. Following a playing career that saw him represent Ireland 23 times between 2007 and 2015, Felix was an assistant coach for three years at Munster before joining South Africa as an assistant coach in 2019.

“Richard Wigglesworth, assistant coach, and Aled Walters, head of strength and conditioning, will join Borthwick and defence coach Kevin Sinfield at the end of the Premiership season. Recruitment is now underway for a new forwards coach and additional specialist coaches will be brought in to support the England team during the preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.”

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Borthwick said: “Our immediate focus is on preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2023. We are continuing to build our programme to be in a position to compete to be world champions once again. At the same time, I also want to ensure we are preparing for long-term success for this England team and I am excited that a coach as talented as Felix is joining next year.

“Felix has been competing at the top of world rugby during his four years with South Africa and will bring invaluable experience to our set up. Like Aled Walters, Felix was an integral part of the team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

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“Together with Richard Wigglesworth and Kevin Sinfield, we are putting in place a coaching team who have spent their careers at the highest level competing for trophies. That is exactly what we want for this England team”.

In a separate statement released via the Springboks, Erasmus said: “It’s a big loss to lose a coach of Felix’s calibre. While we are saddened by the decision. We know how difficult it was for him to make that call and we fully understand the reasons.

“He has been an asset to the Springboks in the last few years and the way he has evolved in his role and willingly took on additional responsibilities to ensure that the team functioned as optimally as possible in his areas of expertise has been admirable.

“We know Felix will remain fully committed to the Springboks cause and give everything as we attempt to defend our Rugby World Cup title in France, and hopefully we can make it a special and memorable send-off for him later this year.”

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Jones added: “Coaching the Springboks is one of the biggest privileges in rugby and I intend to do everything I can to ensure the team is successful until the day my contract comes to its natural end.

“The last four years have been an incredible journey for me and my family, both professionally and personally. I am indebted to so many people at the Springboks and in South Africa for that.

“My commitment to the Springboks until the end of the Rugby World Cup is unquestionable, and Rassie, Jacques (Nienaber – the Springboks head coach) and the entire Springboks team know that. The next five months are going to be exciting and demanding, and I’m looking forward to preparing for the World Cup with this coaching team.”

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