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Eddie Jones leaves England role as Steve Borthwick waits in the wings

Eddie Jones, right, could be succeeded by his former assistant Steve Borthwick, left (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Eddie Jones, right, could be succeeded by his former assistant Steve Borthwick, left (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Eddie Jones has been sacked as England head coach to clear the path for his former number two Steve Borthwick to take over.

Jones was told his reign was over at a meeting with Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney on Tuesday morning, paying the price for the national side’s worst year since 2008.

Forwards coach Richard Cockerill has been placed in charged on an interim basis, but it is expected to be a brief stewardship with the RFU believed to be seeking the release of Borthwick from his contract at Leicester where he is director of rugby.

A Tigers press conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was postponed until Friday, by which point Borthwick may have new employers.

Jones departs with the highest win record of any England coach on 73 per cent, but that number drops to 42 per cent in a dismal 2022 that consisted of six defeats, one draw and five wins.

It was this slump that convinced the RFU to act on the recommendation of the review panel investigating a dire autumn series that was bookended by losses to Argentina and South Africa.

A Grand Slam, Six Nations title and a World Cup final appearance were among Jones’ early successes, but post-Japan 2019 his win percentage dropped to 65.

In his brief parting comments, the 62-year-old Australian insisted he is satisfied with his seven years at Twickenham.

“I’m pleased with much that we have achieved as an England team and I look forward to watching the team’s performance in the future,” Jones said.

“Many of the players and I will no doubt keep in touch and I wish them all well in their future careers.”

Jones was contracted until the end of next year’s World Cup and jettisoning him so close to the event is a risk, but the RFU felt compelled to act sooner.

“It’s important to recognise the huge contribution Eddie has made to English rugby, winning three Six Nations, one Grand Slam and taking us to a World Cup final,” Sweeney said.

“He has the highest win ratio of any England head coach and has helped develop the leadership skills of many players and coaches.

“I’m grateful to Eddie for all he has done for England across many areas of the game and the professional way in which he has approached reviewing the performance of the team.

“He has provided the panel with astute insight and meaningful lessons that will support the team performance going forward.”

Leicester boss Steve Borthwick is favourite to take over from Eddie Jones
Leicester boss Steve Borthwick is favourite to take over from Eddie Jones (Isaac Parkin/PA)

The RFU had previously offered Jones staunch backing but when boos rang out after the 27-13 rout by South Africa last month, it was clear he had no longer had the support of the English rugby public.

Beyond revealing that Cockerill will take charge of team affairs for the time being, the RFU has publicly declined to reveal the identity of Jones’ permanent replacement.

“The RFU will now conclude the long-term work it has been undertaking on coach succession planning, with changes set to be announced in the near future,” a statement read.

Having accumulated international and domestic coaching experience, Borthwick is regarded as the ideal replacement for Jones who gave him his first break in 2012 when Japan boss.

The 43-year-old Cumbrian stepped down as England forwards coach after the 2019 World Cup, joining Leicester whom he transformed from fallen giants to last season’s Gallagher Premiership champions.