The next England head coach should be English, says Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney.
The Rugby Football Union’s chief executive, Bill Sweeney, intends to appoint an English successor to Eddie Jones, effectively ruling out a move for a big-hitting overseas replacement like Warren Gatland or Rassie Erasmus.
Sweeney has backed Jones – whose contract runs until the 2023 World Cup – to stay despite a disastrous Six Nations campaign, and while the Australian’s position will be kept under constant review, the RFU intends to appoint his successor next summer.
Before taking over, the new coach could work under Jones at the World Cup in France.
Sweeney has stated that the next head coach will not necessarily have prior international experience, which opens the door for an approach from Exeter’s Rob Baxter, whose contract expires in 2023.
“The preference would be to have an English set-up,” said Sweeney.
“We believe we’ve got such a wealth of English coaches in the game. As a leading rugby nation, we should be developing English coaches and an English style of play.”
Sweeney also revealed that the union has established a “war room” to evaluate the credentials of all English coaches working both at home and abroad.
While Andy Farrell and Shaun Edwards fall into the latter category, a move for either coach appears unlikely given the intention to make a decision in the run-up to next year’s World Cup, when they will be immersed with Ireland and France, respectively.
Leicester’s Steve Borthwick, who served as forwards coach under Jones for four years, and Richard Cockerill, who currently holds the same position, are also candidates.
The RFU’s director of performance rugby, Conor O’Shea, stated that the governing body hopes to name the successor before the summer of 2023.
“Whether that’s embedding them into the programme or taking a helicopter view, that’s a discussion to be had. We would like to think we will be appointing them in the lead up to 2023,” O’Shea added.
Sweeney said: “If you could create your nirvana, you’d have a coach who every single fan in the country absolutely loves. He’d have heritage in 17 different counties so they’d love him in Yorkshire, they’d love him in Cornwall. That would be fantastic. You’re not always going to get that.
“Gareth Southgate has been fantastic for the FA with his rapport and the rebuilding of that organisation. I wouldn’t write off Eddie completely in terms of the fans. I know he’s controversial and he polarises massively but I don’t think every fan in the country hates him.
Jones was the first foreigner to be appointed as England’s head coach. He has led the team to three Six Nations titles and a Rugby World Cup runner-up finish in Japan since his arrival in early 2016.
Sweeney has defended his decision to back Jones, claiming that England is on the right track despite recent poor performances and results.