England boss Jones set to learn fate next week

Eddie Jones was appointed England head coach in November 2015

England head coach Eddie Jones will know by the middle of next week if he is going to be sacked, with his position under increasing pressure.

The review panel is set to meet on Monday, with the findings discussed at a board meeting on Tuesday.

An official announcement could then be made by the middle of next week.

While Jones and the RFU have long been committed to his tenure finishing after the Rugby World Cup next year, England’s form has forced a rapid reappraisal of strategy.

Despite a plucky series victory in Australia, 2022 has been an underwhelming year for Jones and his team, with just five wins in 13 matches.

Tensions between Jones and the RFU hierarchy also appear to have been strained by the intervention of one of the head coach’s most trusted confidants – PR adviser David Pembroke, who criticised RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney in two now-deleted online posts earlier this week.

Pembroke has since apologised to Sweeney, who has had a challenging fortnight – having also been cross-examined by MPs following the demise of Premiership clubs Worcester and Wasps. It is understood he continues to be committed to the job in hand and retains the backing of the RFU board.

If Jones was to be moved on, the RFU would need to rapidly appoint a replacement in time for the Six Nations in February, as well as formulating a plan not just for the next year but also beyond the World Cup in France.

A host of long-term candidates to replace Jones have already ruled themselves out, with Andy Farrell committing to Ireland beyond 2023, Shaun Edwards doing likewise with France, and La Rochelle boss Ronan O’Gara announcing on Friday he had removed himself from the running.

Ex-Wales coach Warren Gatland remains an option on a short-term basis, although the BBC understands Leicester director of rugby Steve Borthwick continues to be the RFU’s long-term preference.

It is thought Borthwick would join the coaching staff in June if he was to be appointed as the long-term choice, and while he is not likely to join any earlier, he could feasibly take over as head coach next summer.

Former Leicester and Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill – one of England’s assistant coaches and a man steeped in head coach experience – is a possible option as a stop-gap for the Six Nations if required.

Former Harlequins and Italy coach Conor O’Shea is already on the RFU staff as director of performance, but he is not thought to be a realistic option as head coach in either the short or long term.

Highly rated Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has also spoken to the RFU and is keen to secure an international role.

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