Eddie Jones is to become England’s new head coach in succession to Stuart Lancaster. An official announcement could be made as early as Friday after the 55-year-old Australian flew into London on Thursday for contractual discussions with the Rugby Football Union’s Ian Ritchie.
The RFU is understood to be finalising a compensation deal with the Stormers in Cape Town, whom Jones has only recently joined. The former Australia and Japan head coach had previously indicated, however, he would not be averse to coaching at international level again and has now been identified as the man to steer England into the Six Nations championship and beyond.
It is also understood Jones will have free rein when it comes to his coaching team. Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt remain contracted to the RFU but Jones is likely to want to hire his own preferred assistants where possible. Among the contenders will be forwards specialists Alex Sanderson and Steve Borthwick, while Shaun Edwards and Paul Gustard are both candidates for the role of defence coach.
This will be the first time the RFU has appointed a head coach from overseas, although the New Zealander John Mitchell was once Clive Woodward’s assistant. Jones, who suffered a stroke two years ago, guided the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final and was part of the coaching team who helped South Africa to the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007.