Eddie Jones is believed to be on the verge of agreeing a contract extension as England’s head coach through to the next World Cup. Jones’s current deal is due to expire next year but it is thought he is set to commit through to France 2023 after discussions with the Rugby Football Union chief executive, Bill Sweeney.
Jones’s long-term future has been uncertain ever since guiding England to their first World Cup final for 12 years last November. In the buildup to the tournament he had regularly hinted that he would leave his role upon its completion but Sweeney acknowledged after the final defeat by South Africa that it “made sense” for Jones to stay until 2023. The following month Sweeney insisted he was in “no rush” to tie Jones down for a further two years but the pair have held recent talks over the Australian’s contract and it is thought they are closing in on an agreement. The RFU declined to comment on Wednesday night.
In the aftermath of the World Cup final, Jones had hinted he may not stay on until the next tournament, admitting that it was “hard to kick stones for four years” but insisted he would see out his contract until 2021. His initial deal was up until the 2019 World Cup but it was extended for another two years by the then RFU chief executive, Steve Brown, in January 2018, ensuring Jones would be available for the British & Irish Lions job.
With Warren Gatland committing to another Lions tour, however, Jones has slowly but surely warmed to the idea of staying on as England’s head coach.
On the eve of the start of the Six Nations Jones seemed more open to staying, claiming that “the players will let him know” when it is time to leave. If he does stay until 2023 he will become England’s longest-serving head coach in history, eclipsing the 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, who was in charge from 1997 to 2004.
Jones is in Japan but last week it was revealed he had agreed to cut his £750,000 salary by more than 25%, in line with Sweeney and the rest of the executive team, with the RFU forecasting losses of up to £50m over the next 18 months.
Under his tenure England have won the Six Nations title twice – clinching the grand slam in 2016 – and were sitting top of the championship table before the postponements caused by the the coronavirus outbreak.