With Stuart Lancaster stepping down as England’s Head Coach, we take a look at 15 men who could step into one of the most pressurised jobs in rugby…
Jones led Japan to an impressive three victories at the World Cup, including an incredible win over the Springboks. He has the international pedigree to take over the reigns, however he has only just joined the Stormers in South Africa so would have to be bought out of his contract.
Sir Clive Woodward
As the only coach of a Northern Hemisphere side to have led their team to World Cup glory, Woodward no doubt has the experience and would be a fan favourite. He would however be a controversial choice for the RFU given his demands, whilst he hasn’t coached in recent years.
The Bath man was on the England coaching team at the 2011 World Cup, and has since gone on to establish Bath as a force in the Premiership. He would be a popular choice given his brand of attacking rugby, however there are concerns about his experience and commitments to Bath.
The Exeter Chiefs Head Coach has turned his side into a real Premiership force by utilising young talent and playing a good brand of rugby. He has also stepped in as forwards coach for England’s tour of Argentina, but currently lacks experience of high stakes international or club games.
Although Northampton Saints have had a difficult start to the 2015/16 season, Mallinder is highly regarded and has led his side to silverware. He would also likely bring forwards coach Dorian West with him who has established the Saints as one of the dominant packs in English rugby.
No doubt a long shot at this stage, but there have been rumours the RFU have already sounded out Cheika as a potential replacement. It is however hard to see him stepping down from the Wallabies helm having just led them to a World Cup final against all odds.
Since stepping down as Head Coach of Italy, Mallet has avoided a permanent coaching role, so could be a long shot. He certainly has the international experience having led both South Africa and Italy to World Cup’s but may be a bit rusty after so long out of the game.
White has already expressed his interest in the England job, most notably after the 2007 World Cup, and is certainly a contender. He has however only just joined French side Montpellier so may be difficult to prize away, whilst there may also be concerns about his commitment.
Another long shot given Gatland is contracted until after the World Cup in 2019, but another rumour circulating is that he is a target for the RFU. He clearly has the international coaching experience, but given Wales quarterfinal exit, may not be too much of an improvement.
Schmidt is possibly a more likely target than Gatland given he is newer to the Ireland job, but is still something of a long shot. He has turned Ireland into a top side in recent years, but is likely to be difficult to prize away from the IRFU given his Six Nations success.
There is no doubt Hansen would prove to be a statement of intent, although it’s likely he wouldn’t want to move until after the 2017 Lions tour. If England were willing to wait the two years until then, he would likely be available having already signalled his intention to step down.
Sir Graham Henry
Given his age Henry is unlikely to be a long term option for England, however he could be a handy stop gap, either until someone else is found, or for someone like Mike Ford or Rob Baxter to work under and gain international experience from.
It’s hard to see Edwards being launched straight into a Head Coach role despite his potential availability given stalled contract negotiations with Wales. It’s more likely that he could find himself getting a call about taking up the defensive duties under a more experienced Head Coach.
The Harlequins Director of Rugby is a firm favourite at the Stoop, and has shown he can lead a side to honours having guided Quins to the Premiership title. O’Shea focusses on a good brand of rugby, is media savvy and knows plenty of the England players well so could be a good fit.
Deans reputation has been badly damaged after his stint as Wallabies coach, but that shouldn’t take away from his prior achievements. There is every chance of him turning England into a decent side as long as he doesn’t come against dressing room unrest like in the Australian camp.