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Rob Baxter surprised by timing of Eddie Jones’ departure as England boss

Rob Baxter intends to stay with Exeter (Simon Galloway/PA)
Rob Baxter intends to stay with Exeter (Simon Galloway/PA)

Rob Baxter has expressed his surprise at the timing of Eddie Jones’ departure as England head coach.

Jones was sacked on Tuesday, less than nine weeks before England’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Scotland and just nine months before the World Cup starts.

His seven-year reign came to an end following a Rugby Football Union review of the Autumn Nations Series, which produced defeats against Argentina and South Africa, plus a draw with New Zealand.

Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick, who masterminded Tigers’ Gallagher Premiership title triumph last season, is a clear favourite to succeed Jones.

Exeter rugby director Baxter inspired the Chiefs’ Champions Cup win in 2020 and two Premiership title successes, compiling an impressive CV that has previously contributed to him being linked with English rugby’s top job.

Baxter, though, has recently signed a contract extension with the Chiefs, and has no intention of leaving Devon.

On Jones, Baxter said: “I kind of thought with the timing getting towards this second half of the season, through the Six Nations and building towards the World Cup, I was a little surprised the decision got made now.

“There were grumblings and rumblings, but there are always are when England don’t win.

“But I will admit I was surprised the decision got made now.

“I have just signed a contract extension with Exeter, so my intention is to stay here.

Exeter
Exeter have enjoyed considerable success during Rob Baxter’s reign as rugby director (David Davies/PA)

“If you are asking have I applied for the England job? No. If you are asking me am I one of the guys under consideration? No, I am not.

“I have got a close affiliation to the club, my family has got a close affiliation to the club.

“It works me for me family-wise, and I am very proud of what we have achieved here.”

Exeter have confirmed long-term deals for Baxter, head coach Ali Hepher, forwards coach Rob Hunter and skills coach Ricky Pellow.

Exeter chief executive Tony Rowe said: “I am delighted that we have been able to secure the futures of four of our core coaches.

“As a collective, they have been instrumental in the rise of the club in recent seasons, helping bringing a genuine level of on-field success.

“Having spoken with all of them, I know they share the same vision as myself of driving the club on to even greater things in the coming years.”

Baxter added: “Over the years, we have achieved a lot together, but I think I speak for all of us when I say we are all hungry to achieve more.

“Believe it or not, we take it pretty personally when the team don’t perform like we should, and that is the motivating factor for all of us.”