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November 21, 2015

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England goes foreign with Jones

ENGLAND turned to the man who masterminded arguably the biggest upset in rugby history to revive its national team yesterday, hiring Eddie Jones on a four-year deal as the country’s first foreign-born coach.

Jones, a 55-year-old Australian, was bought out of his contract with South Africa’s Stormers franchise in Super Rugby and will take charge of England from December, ahead of its opening Six Nations match against Scotland in February.

“The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world’s most high-profile international rugby job doesn’t come along every day,” Jones said, “and I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity.”

It means the four home nations — England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland — all have southern hemisphere coaches.

Stuart Lancaster was fired as England coach after his team became the first host to fail to advance from the pool stage at the recent Rugby World Cup. The Rugby Football Union — the world’s richest union — said it wanted to hire a coach with proven experience of international rugby, unlike Lancaster, and Jones fit the bill.

Jones coached Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, where it lost to England, and was a technical adviser with South Africa’s World Cup-winning side in 2007. He later took the helm of Japan and guided the Brave Blossoms to the most stunning result in World Cup history, a 34-32 win over the Springboks in Brighton two months ago.

“I’m now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup, and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game,” Jones said. “I believe the future is bright for England.”

Western Province said in a statement that it agreed to terms with the RFU, as Jones had taken charge of its Stormers team only last week.

Jones has also coached the ACT Brumbies, leading them to a Super Rugby title, and had spells with the Queensland Reds, English team Saracens, and Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.

“We promised to recruit a coach with proven international experience and we have done that,” RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said. “We believe the appointment is the right one to bring England success in the short, medium, and long term.

“We are confident Eddie can build on the strong foundations already laid, with this talented group of players largely remaining together through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and beyond.”

England has largely underachieved since capturing the RWC in 2003, winning only one Six Nations. Under Lancaster, the team finished runner-up at the Six Nations for four straight years from 2012, and flopped at the RWC when it lost to Wales and Australia in the pool stage.

Clive Woodward, England’s World Cup-winning coach, said on Twitter that Jones was a good appointment but that it “raises the white flag for English coaches”.


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