Monday, August 8, 2022

Jones backed England’s lead at the 2023 World Cup from the RFU boss

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

The Australian has a contract until the end of the 2023 tournament in France and has eased growing pressure on his position by refereing in the 2-1 tour win over his home country this month.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said Jones’ impressive record against major Southern Hemisphere nations – 20 wins from 25 – is central to keeping the national governing body uphold the faith.

He also conceded that evolving England need to improve in a number of areas if they are to be competitive in Test rugby’s flagship competition.

“We would expect him to make it through ’23,” Sweeney said of Jones. “It’s tough in top-level sport. There is so much control and sensible control.

“I think sometimes it’s important not to overreact, but it’s just as important not to underreact.

“Not only do we have a review after every major tournament, we have an ongoing review process. We’ll obviously do that with Eddie and the coaches when they come back, they’ll be back at the end of the month.

“We look for signs of ‘Are we on the right path?’, ‘Do we still believe in the direction we’re going?’ and ‘do we have the confidence (in Jones)?’ and we have said we will.

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

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

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

The win in Australia, which wasn’t entirely convincing but was certain in the absence of a host of key men, has at least mollified some of the 62-year-old’s critics.

“One of the reasons we’re very confident in making decisions and talking about Eddie is his win rate, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere,” Sweeney continued.

“I think that’s now 25 games against Tier 1 teams from the southern hemisphere, 20 of which have been won, so an 80 percent win rate. When you add the other Southern Hemisphere teams, the win ratio jumps to about 82 percent.

“And if you want to do well at a World Cup, you have to cross a run and beat at least three, maybe even four teams from the southern hemisphere.

“We think that’s an advantage and that’s something we have with him that we rate pretty highly.”

Sweeney missed the winning streak Down Under after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

The CEO insisted he has fully recovered from the recent health crisis.

“I’m fully fit now, back to him,” he said. “I had a six day stint in hospital, came out, was back to work for eight weeks, been back to the gym pretty much every day for the last six weeks so hopefully one more scan and back to normal.

“Unfortunately, the doctors didn’t let me fly to Australia.”

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