LONDON – England’s top rugby union official has said the example of South Africa’s World Cup-winning supremo Rassie Erasmus means they can avoid rushing into a decision on whether Eddie Jones will still be in charge for the 2023 edition in France.
Australian coach Jones took England all the way to this year’s final in Japan, only for his side to be overwhelmed 32-12 by the resurgent Springboks in Yokohama last month.
Jones’ current contract runs until 2021 and there are those who argue the team would benefit from knowing as soon as possible whether he will be in charge for the next World Cup.
Bill Sweeney, the chief executive of England’s governing Rugby Football Union, said in Japan it would “make sense” for Jones to stay on until 2023.
But with Erasmus having guided South Africa out of one of the worst periods in their rugby history to world champions in a mere 18 months and the recent appointment of Ian Foster as the new coach of New Zealand on just a two-year contract, Sweeney insisted Tuesday there was no hurry to extend Jones’ deal.
“At this stage, why would you do that now?”, Sweeney told reporters at Twickenham.
“New Zealand have just appointed Foster on a two-year contract. Erasmus came in 18 months before the World Cup. Is it better to have someone in there for the four-year period leading up to it?
“It may well be, more stability, but I wouldn’t say there is a date in the diary when we have to make a decision otherwise we’re not going to be ready for France.
“There’s no looming deadline where we need to make a pressing decision.”
Last month’s reverse was England’s third defeat in four World Cup final appearances, with its lone success coming when it beat an Australia side coached by Jones in the 2003 showpiece in Sydney.
But it represented a vast improvement on the team’s first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 edition, a performance that led to Jones’ appointment as England coach following the sacking of Stuart Lancaster.
“He (Jones) has done a great job, a really good job,” said Sweeney. “From December 2015, if you look at where we were when he came in he’s done an outstanding job.
“But we’ll look at all the various pros and cons and make a decision on what is in the best interests of England rugby forward.”
Sweeney added: “If it’s the right thing for him to stay, if he wants to stay and we want him to stay then it’ll go that way.
“If there are any reasons why not, it’ll go that way. I wouldn’t say it is a case of waiting for a year or 18 months.”
Jones is a notoriously demanding coach but Sweeney said a two-day tournament debrief after the World Cup, which featured anonymous input from 27 of the 32-man squad in Japan, had been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“The review was very supportive,” Sweeney added.
“He and I sat down and talked on a number of occasions. He (Jones) is away at the moment, he’s in Japan.
“At the moment he’s contracted through and fully committed to seeing out the contract until 2021 and we’ll take it from there.”
England’s next match will be their Six Nations opener away to France in Paris on Feb. 2.