Everything you need to know about England’s new head coach

Steve Borthwick is set to take over from Eddie Jones after he was fired (Picture: Shutterstock)

Steve Borthwick looks certain to become England’s new head coach in the wake of Eddie Jones’ sacking, with the former national captain poised to take over from his old boss.

It has long been regarded as a question of when and not if the Leicester boss would get the top job and the answer appears to be ‘right now’.

A former No.2 to Jones, the man seen as the glue behind the scenes of one of the most successful periods in English rugby history, looks set to succeed his coaching mentor, who has been given the boot nine months out from the World Cup.

The timeframe for his likely ascent to the throne may have been accelerated by the team’s unacceptable form under Jones but the 43-year-old Cumbrian has been destined for the role since he hung up is boots in 2014.

A second-row for Bath and Saracens, he amassed 57 caps for England and served as captain for his last two years as an international.

From an early stage Borthwick proved a natural leader, his rugby intelligence matched by total commitment to the team, making him a central figure in every rugby environment he has worked in.

Jones (left) and Borthwick pictured before the 2019 World Cup final in which England were beaten by South Africa (Picture: Getty Images)

For Sarries he was as much on-field coach as uncompromising front-five forward, his analytical approach initially finding its home mostly at the line-out, his main area of expertise.

Borthwick played a crucial role in elevating Saracens from a middling club to the dominant force on these shores and his influence in north London was spoken of in reverential terms by team-mates and colleagues.

A quiet man, his distaste for the front-of-house aspect of his work created a public persona that was at odds with the high esteem in which he was held behind the scenes, but his career path progressed seamlessly nonetheless.

Borthwick helped Saracens become a dominant force on the field (Picture: Getty Images)

Having initially dipped his toe into the coaching waters at Saracens, his first major break came when he took charge of Japan’s forwards under Jones’ guidance.

Japan surpassed all expectations at the 2015 World Cup and, when Jones was appointed England boss on the strength of the Brave Blossoms’ performance, Borthwick followed him.

After four successful years which included a Grand Slam, Six Nations title and World Cup final in 2019, he left Twickenham to become Leicester’s director of rugby.

As England floundered in the following years, the 18-Test winning run that launched the Jones era now a distant memory, the Tigers flourished under their young figurehead.

The fallen giants of English club rugby were transformed into Premiership champions, with victory over Saracens last season the coronation.

The likes of George Ford and Ellis Genge were outstanding on the field, but the mastermind was Borthwick.

‘Steve demands very high standards, we all know that,’ said South Africa’s 2019 World Cup winning fly-half Handre Pollard, who joined Leicester over the summer.

‘When emotion sometimes gets the better of some coaches, with him it’s every Monday, reset, and the same story. It’s nice as a player – it’s not a rollercoaster. Every week is the same.

‘Steve is different. I’ve not seen anyone like him before. He really dives into the technical and analytical side of rugby, which is pretty cool.’



England rugby briefing

Get the lowdown on why England made the decision to sack Eddie Jones (Picture: Getty Images)

Why was Jones sacked?

Results have deteriorated, England’s record of five wins from 12 games in 2022 their worst return for 14 years. The influence on the Rugby Football Union of the fans that had stayed to the end booing the team off after last month’s 27-13 defeat to South Africa should not be under-estimated. Off the pitch, Jones made influential enemies, picking fights with players, officials and the media, World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward among them.

Was he a success?

Fresh from leading Japan to a shock victory over South Africa, the vastly experienced Jones was seen as the antidote to Stuart Lancaster, under whom England failed to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in 2015. The impact of Jones was immediate, 18 successive Test wins equalling the world record before he led England to the 2019 World Cup final and three Six Nations titles. As RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney pointed out yesterday, Jones leaves with a 73 per cent win ratio from 81 games – the best of any England coach, including Woodward.

What went wrong?

Jones always insisted the World Cup was his priority but there appeared to be little sense of direction nine months away from the tournament in France, with an extraordinary churn both among the Australian’s backroom staff and on the field, where he used 112 players. The week that will define Jones came at the 2019 World Cup in Japan – a sensational semi-final win over New Zealand that saw him handed a new deal followed by a chastening drubbing by South Africa in the final.

What happens next?

Forwards coach Richard Cockerill has been placed in temporary charge but Leicester coach Steve Borthwick is hot favourite to land the job having won the Premiership last term in his debut campaign, with New Zealand’s Scott Robinson another option. Even aged 62, Jones will not be short of offers – with the United States reportedly ready to offer him an eight-year deal.


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