England rugby next head coach: could Gatland or Lancaster replace Jones?

RFU chief Nigel Melville says the plan is to find ‘the best coach for the job’

Warren Gatland and Stuart Lancaster are possible candidates for the England job
Warren Gatland and Stuart Lancaster are possible candidates for the England job
(Image credit: 2013 Getty Images)

Rugby Football Union (RFU) interim chief executive Nigel Melville has revealed that Stuart Lancaster and Warren Gatland could be possible candidates to replace Eddie Jones as England’s next head coach.

In January Jones signed a two-year contract extension to stay in the role until 2021, but the BBC reported at the time that the RFU will start the process early to find his successor. Sky Sports says that an RFU panel will be put together in the new year to draw up a list of candidates.

Once the 2019 Rugby World Cup has finished the RFU wants to appoint a new head coach by the end of the 2019-20 season. The plan is that the new coach would work with Australian Jones until 2021 before taking full charge for the two-year run-up to the 2023 World Cup.

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However, The Guardian reports that included in Jones’s contract is a break clause if England don’t do well at the World Cup next year.

Lancaster to return?

The Daily Telegraph reports that the RFU will give “home-grown coaches every chance to succeed Jones”. Former England head coach Lancaster left the role after the poor performance at the 2015 World Cup but Melville has not ruled him out returning to the top job.

On Jones’s predecessor Lancaster and the possibility of appointing an Englishman, Melville said: “Why would it be a problem? I didn’t get rid of ­anyone. I’ll talk to anyone who has the requisite talent to do the job for us. I am English, this is England, and, of course, it would be great to have an English coach.

“I haven’t spoken to Stuart, so I’m not sure if it’s the path that he sees for himself, but we have been monitoring ­everyone for the past 18 months. We have got a spreadsheet of everything and everyone, different levels, assistant coaches, kicking coaches, all sorts.

“We have English coaches working overseas as well, quite a few of them in France. I’ll be meeting with everyone who is a potential target for us. All our top English coaches will be contacted. We have got to have the best coach for the job.”

Talks with Gatland

Sky Sports reports that Melville is also planning to speak with New Zealander Warren Gatland about succeeding Jones, who is England’s first overseas head coach.

Gatland is currently in charge of Wales but he will leave the role after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Wayne Pivac will then take over from Gatland.

“Warren’s a very good coach but I’m not sure what his plans are,” said Melville. “I’ll speak to Warren and a number of others and then we’ll see. We want the best person for the job.”

Gatland has been with Wales since 2007 and was also head coach of the British and Irish Lions for two tours, to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.

Pleased with the autumn results

Meanwhile, Melville has been impressed by England’s performances in the November autumn internationals. England only suffered one defeat, 15-16 to New Zealand, and Melville believes the squad is in good shape ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan.

“The Quilter Internationals were a credit to Eddie and his management team as well as the players who came out with some excellent results and performances,” he said. “Going into a World Cup year we couldn’t be in a better place and are looking forward to challenge ahead.”

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