Eddie Jones is ready to draw a line under the Stuart Lancaster era by appointing a new management team to take England through to the 2019 World Cup.
Jones has already decided to replace Graham Rowntree as forwards’ coach and is considering splitting the portfolio into two, as he did when he was in charge of Japan. Steve Borthwick, who this season started a two-year contract with Bristol having spent 12 months as part of Japan’s management team under Jones, is being lined up to take charge of the lineout with a scrum expert being considered.
Mike Catt is set to leave his attack coach role, Jones’s specialist field, and while Andy Farrell had been thought likely to stay, if only for a season, to provide an element of continuity having worked with Jones at Saracens six years ago, it is understood the head coach has opted to make a clean break. Another Saracen, Paul Gustard, is the favourite to become the defence coach.
Like Lancaster, Rowntree, Farrell and Catt signed contract extensions last year to take them to the end of the World Cup, but the effect of that was to deter predators rather than lock the Rugby Football Union into expensive compensation packages. Like Lancaster, the three will receive a year’s salary.
Their departures are set to be announced on Monday. The RFU’s line over the weekend was that it would not comment on speculation, but Jones has been a whirlwind since starting the England job belatedly a week ago after visa problems meant he had to stay in Japan for an extra five days.
He met Rowntree, Catt and Farrell last week, as well as England’s head of athletic performance, Matt Parker, who will also be departing, and visited half of the 12 Premiership clubs.
Now that he has identified the coaches he wants to bring in, the RFU will handle the negotiations with the relevant clubs. Bristol, who are desperate to return to the Premiership after a seven-year absence, want Borthwick to remain with them for the rest of the season if he agreed to rejoin Jones, but the RFU wants him to be fully committed to England.
The clubs point out that they have little scope to replace the coaches in kind, although three are looking for jobs this week. Farrell could return to Saracens if Gustard left, while Rowntree has been linked on social media with Wales, whose forwards coach Robin McBryde is contracted until the summer. Rowntree worked with the Wales’ coach, Warren Gatland, on the last two Lions tours.
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