RFU want Eddie Jones to extend contract through 2023 Rugby World Cup

TOKYO -- RFU CEO Bill Sweeney will seek talks with England coach Eddie Jones to extend his contract through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup once the dust has settled on their heartbreaking defeat to South Africa.

Jones is contracted with the RFU through to August 2021 and Sweeney ideally wants the England coach to stay for the next four-year World Cup cycle. Sweeney was talking on Sunday in Tokyo as England were coming to terms with their 32-12 defeat to the Springboks in Saturday's World Cup final.

When asked whether a four-year term would be preferable over two years, Sweeney answered: "It makes sense, doesn't it? If you're going to go through to France 2023 it's nice to have that unbroken stretch, but both parties have got to be completely happy with it and we'll chat about that when we get back."

Sweeney added: "It's not job done yet, it's a bit like a pipeline and there's other players out there who need to be brought on. He's [Jones] probably going to look to get a pool together of 50-55 players who can go the entire distance, so he will be looking long-term. I don't think he'll just phase himself out purely on the two-year basis. We just need to sit down when we get back, have a couple bottles of red wine and chat about where it goes."

The team fly back Monday and Sweeney will seek talks with Jones "as a matter of urgency".

He said: "You don't like these things to hang out there for a long period of time anyway, so it will be sooner rather than later."

Sweeney added that Saturday's outcome will not determine any change in direction for England, and that he wants Jones to have a role in coach succession planning, but his primary objective will be to win the 2020 Six Nations Grand Slam and keep England at the top of the rankings.

The RFU CEO said he is aware of reported interest in Jones from elsewhere, but does not "lose any sleep" over other nations coveting their head coach. Instead, he is focused on bolstering Jones' backroom staff with Neal Hatley leaving, Scott Wisemantel's future unclear and Steve Borthwick heavily linked with a move to Leicester Tigers.

When asked whether Borthwick was leaving his role as England forwards coach, Sweeney responded: "I don't know. He is contracted. He is an RFU employee. He has been linked with a lot of clubs -- there are a lot of rumours flying around, but we haven't spoken about it. When you go through a campaign like this, you've got to respect his desire to get home, sit down with his family and decide what he wants to do."

Sweeney says Jones has drawn up a list of coaching targets and they will look to confirm those appointments as soon as possible to enable the team to focus on getting ready for next year's Six Nations. Before then there will be the customary review into the World Cup where all 32 players will be interviewed along with the coaches and support staff.

"I've been very close to this particular campaign, so I'm not expecting anything in there that is going to shock us, but it would be remiss of us if we didn't look at everything that has happened and see what we can learn from it and how it can take us forward into 2023," Sweeney said. The review will take place over two days in November.

England will return to Japan in July 2020 to play two Tests, believed to be in Kobe and Oita, but before then they will be focused on trying to win the Six Nations title and when the first ball is kicked in anger, we will know whether Jones will be here through to 2023.

"I think he's done a fantastic job with this squad, look where we were four years ago," Sweeney said of Jones. "I don't think those scars will ever go from not getting out of the group, but what he's done to bring them here, some of the risks he's taken to bring them in and the fact that he's changed that through, he's unearthed some fantastic players now that have huge careers going ahead with England.

"He gets on well with that squad, he's committed to England rugby, so I think he's got an awful lot more to offer yet."