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Rugby Union: England sack head coach Eddie Jones

With the World Cup less than a year away, England have made a huge decision in calling time on Eddie Jones' tenure as head coach.

After what has been a tough spell for the Red Rose and with the major tournament in France fast approaching, time will tell if the Rugby Football Union made the right decision.

Pressure has been mounting

After the high of winning the 2020 Six Nations, the last two championships saw the pressure mount on Jones and his position at Twickenham.

The 2020 campaign when England were crowned champions saw the men in white win four of their five games.

In the following two Six Nations, England only managed a total of four wins, and never looked like a side capable of challenging for the title.

While the likes of France and Ireland have shown signs of significant progress over the last couple of years, England appear to have stagnated.

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It’s a far cry from the side that reached the final of the 2019 World Cup in Japan and were crowned Six Nations champions the following year.

Ultimately the autumn series just passed was the undoing for Jones, after home defeats to Argentina and South Africa.

A respectable draw with New Zealand looked like it could keep Jones in a job but the manner of their 27-13 defeat to the Springboks looks to have been the straw to break the camel's back.

England look to Borthwick

Having worked wonders during his time with Leicester Tigers, Steve Borthwick is the man who looks set to be tasked with changing England’s fortunes.

With relatively little time before the 2023 World Cup, this change of head coach may a gamble worth taking from the RFU.

Wales have taken the same decision with the departure of Wayne Pivac, while bringing the successful Warren Gatland back to the head coach position.

Borthwick’s work at Welford Road has made him a standout candidate.

Taking Leicester from a side struggling at the bottom of the table, to winning the Premiership Grand Final last season was a remarkable achievement.

Borthwick, who earned 57 caps for his country in the second-row, has earned rave reviews for what he has been able to achieve at Leicester.

Following questions of the environment in the England camp towards the back end of Jones’ reign, Borthwick will be charged with unifying the group ahead of a massive year of international rugby should he be appointed.

England's chances

A Six Nations championship in a World Cup year always has extra excitement as the teams size each other up before the biggest tournament going in the sport.

England do have the benefit of having three games on home soil, with Scotland, Italy and France all heading to Twickenham in 2023.

A winning start for Borthwick is a must in their opener against Scotland on 4th February.

Victory in the Calcutta Cup, which the Scots have held in four of the last five years, would be the perfect platform for this new post-Jones era.

England, who are 5/1 to win the Six Nations, then welcome Italy to Twickenham, before travelling to Cardiff to take on the Welsh.

Reigning champions France, who are 11/8 to retain their title, then make the trip to London, before England’s campaign concludes against the Irish in Dublin.

Those last two games against France and Ireland are the biggest tests England will face and, if things have not gone well before then, it could well be another disappointing Six Nations for the Red Rose.

Even if England don’t finish top of the table, Borthwick will be hoping to take plenty of positives into the World Cup and at least work out player combinations that can serve them well across the Channel.

Borthwick will have a big decision to make in the backline, with Marcus Smith looking like the future of English rugby at fly-half.

That leaves Owen Farrell’s future in doubt as the Saracens fly-half was used by Jones at inside centre to varying degrees of success.

Farrell captained the side under Jones and it remains to be seen how Borthwick will use the British & Irish Lions star going forward.

As for the World Cup, England have a pool that they should be winning comfortably, as they face the likes of Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile.

It’s in the knockout stages that England will be severely tested and it will be then when the Red Rose, who are 11/2 to win the World Cup, will know if parting company with Jones was the right call.

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