Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Eddie Jones has been backed by Rugby Football Union chief executive Steve Brown to get England back to winning ways after their shock Six Nations slump.
England, champions in 2017, finished a miserable fifth in this season’s Six Nations, their worst performance in the tournament for more than 30 years.
They now head to South Africa for a three-Test series with the Springboks on the back of three straight defeats by Scotland, France and Grand Slam champions Ireland.
It was all so very different in January when Australian coach Jones had an England deal due to expire after the 2019 World Cup in Japan extended by a further two years on the back of 22 wins from his first 23 Tests as Red Rose boss.
Given the proximity of the World Cup, and the fact Brown so recently gave him a new deal, it would require something extraordinary for Twickenham chiefs to ditch Jones before Japan 2019.
And it may well be that the problems revealed by England’s trio of defeats, notably a lack of sharpness at the breakdown and in attack, are too extensive even for the experienced former Australia and Japan coach to solve in time if his current side are to challenge reigning world champions New Zealand.
Brown, however, was encouraged by the way Jones had analysed England’s situation in a Six Nations debrief.
“Eddie described the things that he felt needed to be improved and changed and his plan going forward,” Brown said Thursday.
“I took a great deal of confidence from those plans in how we can ignite the success we had until recently.”
Meanwhile the RFU remain confident Jones will be able to select the uncapped Brad Shields for South Africa under World Rugby’s regulation nine that stipulates players must be released for Test duty.
Shields is the Wasps-bound captain of New Zealand’s Crusaders Super Rugby side.
The back row is, however, England qualified through his parents.
“If we were in the position where Eddie was to select Brad and to require him for the squad, then we would go through the normal process of regulation nine and hopefully that’s fairly routine,” Brown said.
England are set to face New Zealand at Twickenham in November.
With ‘headquarters’ routinely sold out for the visit of lesser nations, the RFU is banking on another 82,000 capacity crowd for a showdown with the All Blacks.
The most expensive ticket for the match is set to be £195 ($272, 224 euros).
“Our prices have been static for two seasons, but the reality is the inflation of costs,” Brown said.
“The premium ticket price is going up, but that allows us to provide more accessibility across the range.
“And over the next couple of seasons, two thirds of the tickets we sell will be less than £100 and one third less than £50.
“The demand is so great for Twickenham that we could keep pushing the price, but we’re not trying to do that.”