Now Eddie Jones has been confirmed as the new coach of England, we take a look at five things he needs to get right sooner rather than later…
1.The coaching team
Currently Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and Mike Catt are still employed as England coaches, however their futures depend on Jones’ preferences. There’s no doubting he will want to put his own stamp on the team, with the likes of Steve Borthwick expected to join, however he may want to retain some of the original coaching team for continuity. He needs to make sure whoever comes in can make a genuine improvement to the team, whilst ideally he should have a number two who he can groom can potentially take over in four years time.
There is a great deal of debate surrounding the future of Chris Robshaw and his future with England, especially given comments made by Jones himself during the World Cup. Although there is no desperate rush to appoint a permanent captain right away, Jones needs to make sure he has a clear vision as to who the key leaders in the team will be, and which of them have the potential to captain the side into the World Cup in 2019. He also needs to make sure there is a clearer directive with the captain to ensure gameplans are carried out on field.
3.Style of play
One of the biggest criticisms of England at the World Cup was that they reverted to a conservative style of play at the first sign of trouble, having previously seen success with a different game plan. Jones needs to make sure he opts for a game plan that works to England’s strengths and ensures that the team is build around this over the next four years. This means players can seamlessly fit into the system, rather than having to change the system to adapt every time there is an injury to a key player, like during the World Cup.
Before his announcement as England coach, Jones had been critical of the current set-up in England claiming players should be centrally contracted. He now seems to have backtracked on this somewhat, but whatever the case he needs to decide on a strategy and then push on with it no matter what. There is also the potential issue of selecting players based abroad. It seems that it will be business as usual from the RFU on this issue, however given they have appointed a foreign coach they may review this as well.
5.Dealing with the RFU
Much has been made of the supposed issues at the RFU, with Ian Ritchie and Rob Andrew coming in for plenty of criticism in the fallout of the World Cup. Jones needs to make sure that he is able to work with the guys at the top of the RFU to ensure that the hard work put in off the field is translated into results. Interestingly there are rumours of a Director of Rugby position being created with Jake White strongly tipped. Jones must ensure that if someone does come in, it is for the benefit of the team and doesn’t hamper his work.