England have made the rash decision to part ways with coach Eddie Jones and, with less than a full season to go to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson is the man for the job, according to ZELIM NEL.
Firing Jones as your head coach is a dubious call at the best of times; doing so as you close in on the World Cup is the equivalent of raising the white flag.
The result of the Twickenham Test against the Springboks in November was ironically what determined Jones’ England fate – leading up to the match, the rumours and reports suggested it was Rassie Erasmus’ head on the chopping block.
Jones was always going to be a prickly appointment to the big job in England, where the media are disciples of the amateur game and have always struggled to come to terms with the fact that professional sport is a business where winning – not ‘entertainment’– is the commodity.
There are few who have a keener grasp of this point than Jones, which explains why he was headhunted by the RFU in 2015.
England has been a common thread in the Australian’s success since inventing the famous Brumbies at the turn of the century – he led the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final where they lost against England, helped South Africa beat the Roses in the 2007 final, and then guided Japan to their most famous victory against the Boks at the 2015 edition in England.
The World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2017, Jones leaves the post as England’s most successful head coach, having won three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2016, and piloting England to the 2019 World Cup final.
He’s a proven winner at the highest level and if the RFU fails to replace him with someone who ticks the same boxes, they’ll soon experience the buyer’s remorse that saw Wales run back to Warren Gatland from media darling Wayne Pivac – the difference being that Eddie won’t go back for seconds.
With nine months remaining before France host New Zealand in the 2023 opener at Stade de France on 8 September, there is only one veritable candidate if the RFU wants to avoid the embarrassment of replacing their most successful coach with a media-friendly bloke who spends his tenure gracefully explaining how England played ‘positive rugby’ and lost. That man is Robertson.
It’s true that Razor hasn’t drawn blood in the Test arena, but he’s had uninterrupted success since taking over as head coach of the Crusaders, arguably the world’s best non-Test team.
The former All Blacks loose forward won a world junior championship with the NZ U20s in 2015, and then coached the Crusaders to six successive Super Rugby titles between 2017 and 2022.
Steve Borthwick has been tipped as the RFU’s choice to take over – the 57-Test former England lock served as forwards coach to Jones between 2015 and 2020, before leaving to head up Leicester. But while he will have no difficulty ensuring England’s set piece functions and they are competitive in the collisions, Borthwick lacks the innovative edge that saw Razor’s teams slice through opponents.
Given their huge playing numbers, England will always be ‘solid’. What they need to win another World Cup is something extra.
With Eddie gone, Razor is England’s only shot at ending a 20-year wait for the Webb Ellis Cup.
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