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'There is only one man for the job and it's 'f**kin' smash 'em'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ex-England out-half Andy Goode and his fellow Rugby Pod co-host Jim Hamilton, the ex-Scotland lock, have outlined their dissatisfaction that the latest comments from RFU CEO Bill Sweeney have effectively ruled out Shaun Edwards from succeeding Eddie Jones as the England coach. The Australian is due to step away at the end of France 2023 but rather than have an open race regarding a successor, the RFU boss has claimed they want an Englishman working under Jones at the upcoming finals before taking over.

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With Edwards committed to his four-year deal as the French defence coach through to the end of the 2023 finals, Goode and Hamilton reckon that the serial Six Nations winner – previously with Wales and now with France – won’t be considered for the England head coach job as they believe the role is being lined up for Leicester boss Steve Borthwick.  

He worked as a Japan and England assistant under Jones before stepping up to take over at Tigers in summer 2020 and his contract will conveniently expire a few months before the World Cup in France, providing him with the opportunity to step back into the England fold for France 2023 and then take over as head coach when Jones finishes after the finals.  

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

It’s a scenario that doesn’t sit well with either Goode and Hamilton and they tore the RFU plan to shreds on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod. “I’ll tell you what is going to happen,” said a frustrated Goode. “They have got an Englishman that can coach under Eddie Jones that will be available before the World Cup, Steve Borthwick is literally the only person. 

“There is a reason Steve Borthwick left England to go and get head coaching experience and that was to take over from Eddie Jones. Now if you go after the biggest coaches in the world, who would England want as their head coach? It should be who is the best coach in the world. We are the biggest union so let’s go and get the best coach in the world. 

“Be that Scott Robertson from New Zealand, be that Shaun Edwards, be that Warren Gatland, be that any name you want to chuck out there. But basically what you are saying is he has got to be English. I’m patriotic and I’m happy they are going down that route but if he is the sixth-best coach, whoever this English person is in the world, why aren’t we going after the best? 

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“Like, Shaun Edwards is an ultimate Englishman. He has openly said he likes long-term employment – he ain’t coming to England before the World Cup. He has got a contract with France so you have basically said now, ‘We don’t want Shaun Edwards’. For me, it’s a ridiculous statement and it’s really bad PR because they are saying whoever comes in is going to be English, he is going to work under Eddie Jones – no one wants to work under Eddie Jones really and any good coach worth their salt is going to be under contract. 

“So the only thing I can think of is Steve Borthwick gets to the end of his coaching contract at Leicester at the end of the 2023 season, so you are talking June next year, and he can then work under Eddie Jones. It’s flabbergasting for me, the leadership, and they are talking about ‘we have got this war room with every coach’. Name me some English coaches that can take the job? 

“Rob Baxter being one. Obviously, Steve Borthwick being another. Do they promote from within? Richard Cockerill. The leadership and the decision making around that, it basically says Eddie Jones is naming his successor. It shouldn’t have anything to do with Eddie Jones. It should be like, ‘here is our plan, Eddie is going to the World Cup and we will make noises in the background about who we want and we are going to go after them’. 

“You can get people to sign a pre-contract, so you can go and get a Shaun Edwards, but he will start after the World Cup… but it is just ridiculous what they have done. To say he is going to be working with Eddie at the 2023 World Cup, someone mentioned that France did it with Fabien Galthie at the last World Cup. 

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“Well, all the players are like. ‘who do we listen to? Do we listen to the coach now, the coach next to you?’ It is a crazy situation and again very bad management by Bill Sweeney as CEO of the RFU.”

Hamilton agreed: “Galthie got sacked as well from Toulon and Montpellier so that is why he had the time because that is the point, that really any decent coach is under contract good and proper and out of all of them, I know Borthwick has been thrown about, he has done a fantastic job with Leicester, they are top of the league so the proof is in the pudding.

“I’d be not flabbergasted but I’d be gutted for Leicester if they lost him that quickly and it is a big risk for him as well as such a young coach because any international coach – unless you win a World Cup it doesn’t end well, especially if you are England coach. Tell me which one has ended well? Well, it hasn’t. 

There is only one man for the job and it’s ‘fuckin’ smash ’em’. There is no better man to take the reins in terms of experience, in terms of energy, in terms of the public. Not one person English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, German has batted an eyelid. Everyone knows that he is the right man. If you are talking English, he is the right man for the job. I cannot think of anyone else. Gatland is getting thrown about. Well, it’s a stop-gap until he gets the All Blacks. Scott Roberston is the same. He wants to coach the All Blacks and I’m sure he is on their list… There is no other man. Shaun Edwards, it’s not even up for debate.” 

Goode then rounded off the discussion. “By them saying what they have said, they are not getting Shaun Edwards unless they are spending a ridiculous amount of money to get him out of his France contract. We had Shaun Edwards on the Pod the other week and he is embedded into that France outfit as a coach, he signed a four-year contract so the French rugby union they ain’t going to let him go before the World Cup. 

“It’s their big showpiece in their own backyard so you are not getting Shaun Edwards. You can cross him off the list. Honestly, I’m just amazed at the rhetoric that has come out and it seems to be so reactive to the negativeness around the PR disaster of the statement they put out the week before about the ‘solid progress that England have made’.

“If they had just said ‘we are focused on the next World Cup, we are working in the background, we are looking at names, we have got a long list’ but by committing to having someone in the coaching team at the 2023 World Cup who is going to take over from Eddie Jones you are massively decreasing the pool of people 18 months out from whenever this new person is going to take over. It’s just ridiculous leadership.”

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