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Eddie Jones to stay on as England head coach until 2021 as RFU backtrack on succession plans

Since taking over in May, the Rugby Football Unions new chief executive, Bill Sweeney, has been busy. With a World Cup just four months away, he has also had to contend with proposals for the Six Nations, a potential World Rugby Nations Championship, and the future of Englands coaching team. Here are five key insights from his first media briefing. Read more: Warren Gatland claims he has unfinished business with the Lions as he rules out England job

Jones staying until 2021

The RFU has already begun preparing for life after the World Cup, and Sweeney stressed head coach Eddie Jones was “committed to going through to 2021”, when his contract expires. “There was speculation he could leave after the World Cup, but hes never indicated that was the case,” he added. “One of the first conversations I had when I came in was about his view, and hes committed to 2021.” Sweeney is in talks with the Australian around the coaching set-up following Japan. Defence coach John Mitchells contract has been extended to June 2021 on Joness advice, but scrum coach Neal Hatley is returning to Bath.

Eddie Jones (right) will stay on as England head coach until 2021, while John Mitchell (left) has signed an extension to the same date

Succession plan

In January last year Sweeneys predecessor Steve Brown trumpeted plans to have Joness successor work alongside him for a year to learn the ropes before taking over. But not only is that no longer the case, Sweeney denied any knowledge of it ever being the plan. “Thats not the intention,” he said. “I havent heard that before. Weve had no conversations around that, so Eddie is taking the team to Japan [for a tour in summer 2020].” The former British Olympic Association chief added it was “possible” that Jones stayed on longer, but with the caveat that its “premature to start thinking about an extension to France [2023], but it gives us the time to have those conversations later.”

World Rugby shake up

The RFU is keen on the World Rugby Nations Championship concept but insists there are some “structural issues” that need resolving ahead of an end-of-June deadline. Sweeney says “the numbers are good” commercially, with £6.1bn to be split between the teams involved over 12 years, but increasing the Six Nations commercial potential – a project codenamed Project Light – is also an area of priority. “Weve got to make sure nothing is done to harm the Six Nations,” Sweeney said. “There are also player welfare issues, a relationship issue with the Premiership and clubs around calendars.” The prospect of promotion and relegation in World Rugbys new competition is likely to remain a concern for some unions, all of whom must unanimously agree.

The RFU are supportive of a World Rugby Nations Championship
The RFU are supportive of a World Rugby Nations Championship

Promotion and relegation

Sweeney is set to meet with the RFU council today to update them on discussions to implement a 13-team Premiership that will see an end to automatic relegation. Instead, there will be a home and away play-off between the bottom team in the Premiership and the winner of the Championship, should the proposal go through. “Its not ring-fencing, youve Read More – Source

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