TWICKENHAM, United Kingdom, Apr 2 – Eddie Jones said “the project hasn’t been finished yet” as it was announced he would remain England’s head coach until the 2023 World Cup in France.
The 60-year-old Australian took charge following England’s first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup and proclaimed the aim was to turn them from also-rans to champions come last year’s edition in Japan.
In the end, despite a thrilling 19-7 semi-final win over reigning champions New Zealand, they just fell short, with South Africa overwhelming England 32-12 in the final.
But the Rugby Football Union were always keen for Jones to stay on and he has now signed a two-year extension to a contract due to end in 2021.
Jones has guided England to two Six Nations titles – including the 2016 Grand Slam — and his side are currently top of this season’s edition, with one match to play, after this month’s entire last round was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
His new contract means Jones is set to become England’s longest-serving head coach, surpassing the eight-year stint of Clive Woodward.
Having made no secret of wanting England to become the “greatest team the world has seen” Jones insisted Thursday that was still the goal.
“Having done the four years, I felt the project hasn’t been finished yet,” he said in a conference call.
“At the end of the World Cup, you need to make an assessment of whether you can continue to develop the team and whether, as a coach, you can be effective
“Therefore, the Six Nations for me was quite important. I wanted to make sure I could still have an effect on the team, still improve the team and I think I can do that so I think it’s a good fit for me to continue.
“We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes.
“Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen.
“I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right,” added Jones, Australia’s coach when the Wallabies lost the 2003 World Cup final to Woodward’s England.
– ‘First choice’ –
Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney, meanwhile was delighted Jones had signed on for two more years.
“Eddie was our first choice, he’s always has been our first choice… His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby,” said Sweeney, who expressed the union’s sympathy for victims of COVID-19.
Jones is the highest paid coach in international rugby union, earning a reported £750,000 ($912,522) per year.
But as part of the RFU’s cost-cuts in response to the spread of the coronavirus that has led to the suspension of major sport worldwide, he recently joined Twickenham executives in taking a 25 percent pay cut.
“Our problems are quite insignificant compared to the problems around the world,” said Jones.
“When we get the opportunity to play, we want to play with passion, we want to play with pride and we want to give people something to enjoy.
“We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together.”
England are meant to tour Japan in July but, given the Tokyo Olympics have already postponed, that now looks unlikely, with Sweeney saying: “We expect to be able to make a decision on that towards the end of April.”