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England Rugby Football Union Sacks Coach Eddie Jones

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England Rugby Football Union Sacks Coach Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones’s turbulent tenure as England coach ended on Tuesday when the Rugby Football Union fired him following an investigation into their November series. The series ended with the team being booed off the pitch at Twickenham.

That rare fan reaction to a comprehensive 27-13 defeat by a weakened South Africa – and Jones’ subsequent comment that he didn’t care what anyone else thought – appears to have been the final straw for the anonymous panel that sat to review the tests, which also included defeats by Argentina, a draw with New Zealand, and a victory over Japan.

“The Rugby Football Union will now conclude the long-term work it has been undertaking on coach succession planning, with changes set to be announced shortly,” the governing body said after announcing his dismissal. In the meantime, (forwards coach) Richard Cockerill will be in charge of the men’s team daily.”

After losing three of their five games in the previous Six Nations, England won only five of their 12 games in 2022.

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Nonetheless, Jones, 62, who led Australia to the World Cup final in 2003 and Japan to a shock victory over South Africa in 2015, insisted they were on track for next year’s global tournament, his number one, and seemingly only, priority.

Jones, who took over after England’s group-stage exit from the 2015 World Cup, had a contract that ran through the end of next year’s World Cup in France.

Despite the team’s ongoing struggles on the field, the Australian insisted that after gathering his squad for a three-month training camp next summer, they would reveal a completely new attacking structure and emerge as serious contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time.

While that “jam tomorrow” approach may have been accurate, the Rugby Football Union appears to have decided that they could not sacrifice every other aspect of the national team’s performance to get there.

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Following this year’s Six Nations, which saw defeats by Scotland, Ireland, and France, Rugby Football Union head Bill Sweeney was widely mocked for claiming “solid progress.”

 

Following the demoralizing Springbok defeat, he sounded far less supportive, saying of the fans’ feelings, “It matters to us how they feel.”

Sweeney said in a statement on Tuesday, “It is important to recognize Eddie’s huge contribution to English rugby, winning three Six Nations Championships, one Grand Slam, and leading us to a Rugby World Cup final.” He has the highest win percentage of any England head coach and has helped many players and coaches develop their leadership skills.

“I am grateful to Eddie for reviewing the team’s performance professionally. He gave the panel astute insight and valuable lessons to help the team perform.”

“I am pleased with much that we have accomplished as an England team, and I look forward to watching their performance in the future,” Jones said. Many players and I will undoubtedly stay in touch, and I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”

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England’s decline over the last three years is in stark contrast to Jones’s success following the 2015 group-stage exit.

He was the highest-paid coach in international rugby when he oversaw a record run of 18 straight test wins, a Grand Slam at the first attempt, and Australia’s first 3-0 series whitewash.

Things began to deteriorate in 2018 when England lost six consecutive games, but with a change in his assistants – a recurring theme of his tenure – they roared back at the World Cup the following year.

The semi-final victory over New Zealand was widely regarded as England’s best-ever performance, but the celebrations were short-lived as they were defeated in the final by South Africa.

Since then, rugby fans and the media have grown tired of his selection inconsistencies and endlessly upbeat rhetoric, making his progress look increasingly unjustifiable compared to the proven progress of European rivals Ireland and France.

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