By Nick Mulvenney and Nick Said
Australian Eddie Jones has been appointed coach of the England rugby team on a four-year contract starting in December, the Rugby Football Union said on Friday.
The 55-year-old former Wallabies and Japan coach replaces Stuart Lancaster, who stepped down in the wake of the hosts’ pool-stage exit from the World Cup, and is the first foreign coach to lead England.
South Africa’s Western Province had earlier paved the way for the announcement by releasing Jones from a three-year contract he had just signed to take over as coach of the Cape Town-based Stormers Super Rugby side.
“The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world’s most high profile international rugby job doesn’t come along every day … and I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity,” Jones said in a news release.
“I’m now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game.
“I believe the future is bright for England.”
Jones’ stock rose to unprecedented levels after he led Japan to a stunning upset of former world champions South Africa at the recent Rugby World Cup.
He had previously coached Australia to the final of the 2003 World Cup and been an advisor to the South Africa team that won the 2007 edition of rugby’s showpiece event.
“We promised to recruit a coach with proven international experience and we have done that,” said RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie.
“Eddie is a world-class coach, with extensive experience at the highest level with Australia, South Africa and Japan.
“We believe that the appointment, which was unanimously approved by the RFU Board, is the right one to bring England success in the short, medium and long term.
“We are confident Eddie can build on the strong foundations already laid, with this talented group of players largely remaining together through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and beyond.
“We are grateful to the Stormers for their co-operation in releasing Eddie early from his contract.”
Western Province provided no details of the compensation they had received from England for allowing the former Japan coach to break his contract.
Jones told reporters last week he was “committed” to the Stormers despite media speculation linking him with the England job, but admitted he found the lure of London too great.
“When I was appointed at Western Province there was no vacancy within the RFU and I never envisaged this opportunity to come forward.
“So while I am excited about the opportunity to coach England I’m very disappointed to be leaving the Stormers.”