RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has confirmed that Eddie Jones will stay for the duration of his contract until 2021.
Jones had suggested previously that he might exit after the Japan 2019 World Cup, but with his defence coach, John Mitchell, signing a new deal which also terminates in 2021, Sweeney looks to have steadied the ship.
‘Eddie has reconfirmed his commitment through to 2021. We have lots of conversations on that and he has said he wants to stay through to the end of that contracted period,’ said Sweeney.
‘We have extended John’s contract through to be consistent with Eddie’s, so it goes through to June of 2021. That was in full consultation with Eddie. He and I spoke about it about five, six weeks ago maybe. It is part of Eddie’s long-term coaching structure plans.
‘From that prospective we’ve already started conversations around what will the structure and look of that coaching team be coming back from Japan. He has got a number of names in the frame.
‘We haven’t approached them yet, at least I don’t think so. We wouldn’t contract anyone pre-World Cup. But he has got in mind how he would like to structure that as soon as we get back.
‘We would confirm it immediately as soon as we got back (from the World Cup.) The new man at the helm has been presented with an unenviable task of bringing financial order and transparency to the RFU.’
Following a move from the British Olympic Association in May, Sweeney — who turned down the role previously — has confirmed stabilising the RFU’s finances is top of his priority list.
‘It’s not in as bad a situation as perhaps I would have expected it to be quite frankly, having read a number of things coming in,’ said Sweeney.
‘The team here has done a really good job over the last 18 months already, taking quite a bit of cost out of the operation. We will make a profit this financial year.
‘We go into a challenging year next year simply because of the match profile, we’ve got no autumn internationals and only two Six Nations home games.
‘So that automatically puts pressure on the top line. We will report a loss, in the next financial year. We don’t anticipate making any more cuts now, we won’t be going into any widespread organisational redundancy programme, that’s not on the cards at the moment. It’s definitely not a crisis, there’s no financial crisis here.’ Steve Brown’s successor must also make a decision on whether to move forward with World Rugby’s Nations Championship proposal, which takes the format of a cross-hemisphere league that would result in the top teams from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship meeting at the end of the year.
The main stumbling block is the relegation and promotion section of the proposal. European Unions would be split into two tiers, creating depth, but also the possibility of relegation into a less financially viable tier.
‘We favour the concept, for a number of reasons; it’s good for the growth of the global game, good for developing tier two nations, good for the health of SANZAR and the Southern Hemisphere,’ said Sweeney.
‘Financially it’s a decent offer, one or two things we’re still negotiating but it’s minor. There are a lot of complexities attached to it, it’s a really complex tournament.
‘Quite a few governance issues attached to it, and player welfare is something we’re obviously very concerned with.
‘There’s three of four topics not yet resolved, and I’d say that’s probably the same for all the unions. So, we’re in that stage of conversation and it’s coming to the sharp end if you like.’