Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said Thursday that Eddie Jones is the right man to lead England into next year’s World Cup following a morale-boosting series win in Australia.
The 62-year-old, who took charge after a dismal 2015 World Cup for England on home soil, came under intense pressure earlier this year after his side lost three Six Nations matches for the second time in a row.
But this month’s 2-1 series success in Australia has strengthened the position of the head coach, who has said he will stand down when his contract expires after the 2023 World Cup in France.
Jones will be hoping to go one better next year after taking England to the final of the 2019 tournament in Japan, where they were beaten by South Africa.
He also reached the 2003 final as coach of his native Australia, losing to England on that occasion.
“We’d expect him to go through to ‘23,” Sweeney told reporters at Twickenham after reflecting on England’s second series win in Australia under Jones following a 3-0 whitewash in 2016.
“Winning in Australia, it’s never easy… So it was really pleasing to go down there, come away with a second series victory, both of them engineered by Eddie.
“One of the reasons we feel very confident around decisions and around conversations regarding Eddie is his win ratio, particularly in the southern hemisphere.
“That’s now 25 games against tier-one southern hemisphere teams and 20 of those won, so it’s an 80 percent 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 (Jones) that we rank pretty highly.”
Sweeney attributed some of England’s recent Six Nations struggles to the need to rebuild after the 2019 World Cup.
“Throughout that 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’,” he added.
“We are not blind to some of the areas that need to be addressed. We’ve got to improve a lot to be competitive.”
Sweeney also tipped Ireland, who have just completed a first series win in New Zealand, and reigning Six Nations Grand Slam champions France, to be major contenders at the World Cup.
“The challenge for us is to improve at the rate we think is good enough to be fully competitive in 2023,” he said.
“We do believe Eddie is the guy to take us there,” added the CEO, citing both Jones’s experience and capacity to adapt to the changing demands of the modern game.
“I think he’s the longest-serving World Cup coach and I think I’m right in saying he’s got the best win ratio of any coach in the World Cup.
“So purely from a World Cup perspective, we’ve got confidence out of those stats. But life’s not just about the stats side of things
“He’s very creative and innovative when it comes to running an international team. So I think those factors primarily are the ones that give us some confidence.”