Eddie Jones available to coach Lions in 2021 after extending England contract
RFU chief executive Steve Brown is open to Jones being at the helm for the Lions’ tour to South Africa in 2021.
Eddie Jones will be available to lead the next British and Irish Lions tour despite having his contract extended by England until 2021.
Jones was due to step down from his post after the 2019 World Cup but his reign has been lengthened by a further two years as part of a succession plan that will see his successor named by 2020.
Included in the detail of the agreement is a break clause after the global showpiece in Japan, allowing the Rugby Football Union to sever ties with the Australian in the result of a poor performance.
Jones was prevented from coaching the Lions to New Zealand last year by Twickenham officials, but new RFU chief executive Steve Brown is open to him being at the helm for the tour to South Africa in 2021.
The Lions expect their coach to take a 12-month sabbatical, thereby interrupting his duties with the national team he serves.
“This wouldn’t prohibit him at all. Bear in mind that we’re a quarter-shareholder in the Lions and we’ll have some say in that too,” Brown said.
“If we’re planning for success, we’ve come out of very successful World Cup and Eddie is the right coach for the Lions then our arrangement isn’t going to preclude that.
“We’re not ruling it out, but it’s quite a way away and there are a lot of things to happen before then.”
The search for Jones’ replacement has already begun and will involve the 57-year-old, with Exeter’s Rob Baxter the early favourite as an end is sought to the haphazard process that has conceived previous regimes.
Upon replacing Stuart Lancaster, Jones outlined his plan to retire to Barbados after the 2019 World Cup, but the prospect of establishing a dynasty shaped on the successful New Zealand model of a triumvirate of big hitters forced a change of heart.
“The goal has to be that you want the best coaching team in the world. That’s why it’s exciting for me to be involved in trying to create that,” Jones said.
“I’d love to be in Barbados in 2021… I’ll get there eventually… watching an England team being coached by a super team of coaches and playing better rugby than they’ve ever played before. That’s the ideal situation.
“New Zealand has shown that if you get the right coaching team in place it can aid the sustainability of the team.
“It’s easy for any team to have a successful period of time, the most difficult thing is to be sustainable.
“There is an opportunity to do something a bit different and to leave some sort of legacy for English rugby.”
The new arrangement would appear to prevent the appointment of an established world-class coach as such a candidate would be unwilling to play second fiddle to Jones for a year, but Brown insists pragmatism will prevail.
“We’ll keep flexible around that and if we’ve got the best person and there’s some flexibility required that’s what we’ll do,” Brown said.