With under 2 years to go to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the role of the next England manager is already under discussion. Eddie Jones took on the role under the clear instructions it would be only until the next world cup and Eddie, being a man of his word, will probably step down at the end of his contract. So, whether driven by media speculation or early RFU planning, the search seems to be on already for who will replace the lovable Aussie in 2019.
Newcastle boss Dean Richards, a possible contender himself, has backed Exeter counterpart Rob Baxter and it would be tough not to question his call. Baxter, 46, coached the Chiefs to last season’s English title and Richards said: “He is an outstanding coach, an outstanding director of rugby in fact.” He added Baxter “is probably my tip to be the next England director of rugby” when he recently spoke to the BBC Radio 5 Live.
His background? Baxter captained Exeter for 10 years before becoming director of rugby and steering them to a maiden Premiership title last season. He toured Argentina with England as an assistant coach to Stuart Lancaster in 2013 and has said he would be happy to see out his career with Exeter – a point recognised by Richards. “Whether he would want it [the England job] or not is another thing,” the Newcastle boss told BBC Radio 5 live.
The question however about whether the next manager should be home grown or taken from a list of international applicants is an issue that over the next 12 – 24 months the RFU need to decide.
Richards, who won 48 England caps and six for the British and Irish Lions during his playing days, added he would like Australian Jones’ successor to be home grown. “I would like him to be English, yeah, but having said that I think Eddie has done a sterling job,” said the former Leicester and Harlequins coach.
It was interesting to hear however that Richards ruled himself out of the running for the England job, saying: “I am not interested and I never have been. It’s not my cup of tea.”
You can’t get a more English response than that!
Another contender must include Jim Mallinder at Northampton and at a stretch I’d love to see what Saracen’s Mark McCall could offer. I know he’s not English, but I could make an exception in this case.
Whatever the decision on the next England manager, I personally want to enjoy the next 24 months watching Jones mentor and drive his current crop of England players, many of whom his predecessor, Stuart Lancaster introduced to the England set up. What happens after the Japan world cup is for another manager and personally I can wait for that story to unfold nearer the time.