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Steve Borthwick confirmed as England head coach by RFU

By PA
Steve Borthwick (PA)

A new era for England has begun with the confirmation of Steve Borthwick as their new head coach, with Kevin Sinfield joining as defence coach.

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The 43-year-old Cumbrian has been officially announced as Eddie Jones’ successor after a deal was finalised on Sunday morning.

Leicester Tigers confirmed that they had agreed terms with Steve Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield for an early release from their contracts with the club.

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Borthwick signs on a 5-year deal that will see him through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

Jones was sacked almost two weeks ago after presiding over England’s worst year of results since 2008, managing only five wins from 12 games.

Borthwick appeared at a press conference at Twickenham on Monday.

“I’m deeply honoured to be appointed England head coach, and I am very excited by the challenge,” Borthwick said. “The English game is full of talent and I want to build a winning team which makes the most of our huge potential and inspires young people to fall in love with rugby union the way I did. I want the whole country to be proud of us and to enjoy watching us play.

“The hard work starts now and planning for the Guinness Six Nations and Rugby World Cup begins today. I will give it everything.”

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RFU CEO, Bill Sweeney added: “We are delighted to be welcoming Steve back to the RFU. He has been part of the England team for over 15 years and he is our first-choice successor to Eddie.

“Steve and Kevin’s insight and first-hand knowledge of the players will be a great asset and everyone at the RFU is right behind them with our full support.”

Sinfield said: “It is a special moment to join England as a coach. I know what representing your country means and to get the chance to do it as a coach is a real honour.

“There is so much player talent in England and I am really looking forward to working with the wider squad of players to see what we can achieve together, especially with such a massive year ahead of us.

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“I’d like to thank everyone at Leicester Tigers, the players, staff and supporters, for welcoming me to the club. I’ve loved my time there and wish them all the best for the rest of the season.

“I’m looking forward to getting started and there’s no better opening campaign than the Guinness Six Nations.”

Warren Gatland, Ronan O’Gara and Scott Robertson were among the names touted to replace Jones, but Borthwick has been the Rugby Football Union’s overwhelming preference to take over.

Before transforming Leicester from a fallen giant of English club rugby into Premiership champions, the former Saracens captain spent eight years as an international assistant coach – all under Jones.

Upon hanging up his boots, he launched his coaching career with Japan in 2012 and then joined his tracksuit mentor when he was appointed England boss in the aftermath of the disastrous 2015 World Cup.

Borthwick’s role was overseeing the forwards, with the line-out his main area of expertise, but he also performed the key role of coaching coordinator and was seen as the glue behind the scenes.

Since his departure, England have struggled for consistency as the churn of backroom staff accelerated in the face of Jones’ demanding managerial style.

When Borthwick took over Leicester were reeling from their 11th-place finish in the 2019-20 season and were only spared relegation by Saracens’ salary cap scandal, which resulted in the London club dropping out of the Premiership instead.

The ship was steadied by finishing sixth a campaign later and despite operating under the salary cap limit, he went on to mastermind Leicester’s first league title since 2013.

Now in charge of England, he must lift another team out of he doldrums – although this time he has the World Cup looming on the horizon.

Only five competitive fixtures in the form of the Six Nations await before the global showpiece in France next autumn, with four warm-up matches providing additional preparation time.

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