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16 Aug 2022

Eddie Jones backed to lead England at World Cup by RFU chief Bill Sweeney

Eddie Jones backed to lead England at World Cup by RFU chief Bill Sweeney

Eddie Jones has been backed to lead England at next year’s World Cup after the Rugby Football Union insisted “Eddie is the guy to take us there”.

The Australian has a contract until the end of the 2023 tournament in France and eased mounting pressure on his position by masterminding this month’s 2-1 tour victory over his native country.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said Jones’ impressive record against major southern hemisphere nations – 20 wins from 25 – was central to the national governing body keeping faith.

He also conceded that evolving England require improvement in a number of areas in order to be competitive during Test rugby’s showpiece competition.

“We’d expect him to go through to ’23,” Sweeney said of Jones. “It is tough at the highest level of sport. There is so much scrutiny and reasonable scrutiny.

“I think it is important sometimes not to over-react but it is also equally important not to under-react.

“We don’t just have a review after every major tournament, we have an ongoing review process. We will clearly be doing that with Eddie and the coaches when they come back, they are due back at the end of the month.

“We have been looking for signs of ‘are we on track?’, ‘do we still believe in the direction we’re going in?’ and ‘do we have the confidence (in Jones)?’ and we’ve said we do.

“We are not blind to some of the areas that need to be addressed. We’ve got to improve a lot to be competitive.

“The challenge for us is to improve at the rate we think is good enough to be fully competitive in 2023. And we do believe Eddie is the guy to take us there.”

Jones guided England to the final of the 2019 World Cup in Japan – where they were beaten by South Africa – but his position has since come under increased scrutiny on the back of two dismal Six Nations campaigns.

Victory in Australia, which was not entirely convincing but secured in the absence of a host of key men, has at least placated some of the 62-year-old’s detractors.

“One of the reasons we feel very confident around decisions and around conversations regarding Eddie is his win ratio, particularly in the southern hemisphere,” continued Sweeney.

“I think that’s now 25 games against tier one southern hemisphere teams and 20 of those won, so it’s an 80 per cent win ratio. If you add in the other southern hemisphere teams, it goes up to about 82 per cent win ratio.

“And, if you’re going to do well in a World Cup, you’re going to have to go across a run and beat at least three, maybe even four, southern hemisphere teams.

“We feel that’s an advantage and that’s something we’ve got with him that we rank pretty highly.”

Sweeney missed the victorious series Down Under after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

The CEO insisted he has completely recovered from the recent health scare.

“I’m fully fit now, back to it,” he said.

“I had a six-day stint in hospital, came out, I’ve been back at work eight weeks, been back in the gym virtually every day for about the last six weeks so hopefully one more scan to go and back to normality.

“The doctors wouldn’t let me fly, unfortunately, down to Australia.”

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