Eddie Jones has been backed to continue in his role as England head coach following an RFU review of their fifth-place Six Nations finish.
England finished fifth in the Six Nations for the second time under Jones, which led the RFU to conduct an investigation into why the World Cup runners-up and defending Six Nations champions had performed so poorly.
During the 2021 campaign, England suffered historical losses to Ireland, Wales and Scotland for the first time in 45 years.
Reports from England at the time suggested that a clause in Jones’ contract could allow the RFU to part ways with him, even though he is one of the highest-paid coaches in the world.
However, the RFU’s review – which included feedback from players, coaches (past and present) and support staff as well as detailed presentations from Jones himself – concluded that he should remain in his role as head coach.
‘The RFU has concluded a debrief of the Six Nations confirming its full support and backing of Eddie Jones as head coach, while recognising a sub-optimal campaign and the factors that contributed to it,’ a statement read.
Among the contributing factors to the campaign was the absence from the coaching team of Jason Ryles and Neil Craig, as well as forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, who missed the start of the training camp after testing positive for coronavirus.
The RFU also concluded that that a number of England’s players –particularly those from Saracens – did not have enough game time going into the Six Nations while others were fatigued.
‘We were all disappointed to finish fifth in the Six Nations,’ RFU chairman Bill Sweeney said.
‘Our track record and results under Eddie meant that we, the players and our fans had much higher expectations. Sport is all about fine margins which is why every campaign debrief is invaluable in helping us to learn and improve.
‘Eddie approached this review with a great deal of self-awareness and humility, allowing us to look at every aspect of the tournament to identify every small change we can make in order to improve.’
Jones was honest about his team’s below-par results.
‘During the Six Nations we were not up to our usual high standards and we recognise that,’ he said.
‘I’m looking forward to the summer tour, which will provide a great opportunity to see more of our emerging talent and I’m confident our next team will come back stronger this autumn building up to a winning performance in the next Six Nations.’
Several recommendations have been implemented for the upcoming Tests against the USA and Canada in July, including an enhanced sports psychology element and additional refereeing input to provide technique improvement during training.
Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images