England’s confirmation that attacking coach Scott Wisemantel will move on from his position may not come as a surprise to many.
After Dave Rennie was announced as Australia’s new head coach last week, it has been expected that Wisemantel would leave his post he has held for 18 months to join the setup in his homeland. While that is not confirmed yet, it is imminent.
Eddie Jones’ coaching team is set for a major reshuffle, as scrum coach Neal Hatley has returned to Bath, and forwards coach Steve Borthwick has long been rumoured to be going to Leicester Tigers.
There was obviously a good balance between Jones’ staff at the Rugby World Cup recently, as they led England to the final. This disbandment looks ominous after the promising signs in Japan, but it may not be as disastrous as it first appears.
When Jones took the reins of England four years ago, he brought with him Borthwick from Bristol and Paul Gustard from Saracens as his core team. While the former England lock has remained throughout, the coaching team has evolved continuously.
Hatley was recruited later in 2016, while it was not until the tour of South Africa in 2018 that Wisemantel was brought in. It was even later that John Mitchell replaced Gustard as defence coach, and helped reinvigorate a lacklustre team.
What is clear is that Jones’ team is ever-changing and adapting, which may partly be down to his demands but also to avoid the possibility of the setup growing stale, which probably happened in early 2018.
Wisemantel has done a wonderful job during his tenure, but Jones has called upon others over the past four years that have equally been beneficial. Glen Ella has been called upon over the past four years to help with England’s attack, and was instrumental in England’s rampant whitewash series in Australia in 2016. The structure has never been set in stone, it has been a dynamic process that ultimately led to England peaking in Japan, albeit they fell short.
People reading too much into this (not necessarily here). Wisemantel offered the chance to go home to coach his country. Borthwick has done 4 years. These kind of shuffles are not unusual.
— Alex Cook (@Cookadoodledoo) November 26, 2019
As Eddie's demands are so high he has always had a fairly high staff turnover. This doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. Need to keep hold of Mitchell now & find some decent replacements. Strange thing though, a few months back few would have worried if Wisemantel left!
— Saltysnowflake (@EricAnbo) November 26, 2019
Eddie Jones has done a great job. Look where England were before he started. If I were him I would be changing some of the backroom staff. Change is good and necessary.
— Sandman (@richard_keeley) November 26, 2019
There is no denying that England’s attack over the past 18 months has looked insatiable at times; they scored ten tries more than anyone else in the Six Nations and proved too much for the All Blacks to handle at the RWC. Combining the power of England’s pack with the subtle hands of players like Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler, Wisemantel helped orchestrate an attack that left opposition defences completely lost at times, and provided a lot of space for England’s fleet-footed outside backs.
Alex Ferguson replaced his coaches regularly. Complacency is an easy thing in sport and he’s done a good job so far so let him crack on
— Charlie Ward (@golarz75) November 26, 2019
As a temporary move what's the betting that Eddie will bring in Glen Ella for the 6 Nations? Other possibilities include: Andrew Johns, Ricky Stuart (both have helped England recently) or perhaps as an outside bet Will Greenwood/Jonny Wilkinson.
— John Pearce (@JohnPearce984) November 26, 2019
Wisemantel will be missed by England, as will Hatley and Borthwick (if he does leave), but Jones’ long and varied career has meant he has built a number of relationships with people he can call upon. While Mitchell remains, a fresh start may even be what is needed for England after a RWC cycle, as Jones has also alluded to an overhaul in his squad as well.
What is most important, is that this has been an era defined by change, so it is nothing out of the ordinary.
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