Eddie Jones: England head coach is the total package, says RFU’s Bill Sweeney

Rugby Football Union boss Bill Sweeney has urged Eddie Jones to keep his “competitive edge”, even if the England head coach does “slightly cross the line” on occasions.

Sweeney has handed Jones a contract extension through to the World Cup in France in 2023.

While Jones’ 78% win ratio makes him one of the great England coaches, controversy often follows him around.

“We manage it, we talk about it and we are OK with it,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney was recently forced to reprimand Australian Jones for suggesting referee Ben O’Keefe was biased against England in the Six Nations game with Wales.

“You get a total package with Eddie, don’t you?” Sweeney told BBC Sport.

“He is ultra, ultra competitive, rugby is his life, and with all of that comes a huge degree of passion.

“Along with the passion comes the occasional comment or situation and he may slightly cross the line – he is the first person to put his hands up and admit that.

“I wouldn’t want him to dial down his commitment and passion – that’s the big attraction.

“Could he be a bit more diplomatic on occasions? Perhaps, but we certainly want him to maintain that competitive edge.”

‘Timing ends speculation’

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The 60-year-old’s current contract was due to expire in August 2021, but he had been set for a new deal since leading England to the World Cup final last year.

While this announcement secures Jones’ position at the RFU, other Twickenham employees are facing an uncertain future in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were probably not going to announce until things had hopefully died down a bit,” Sweeney explained.

“But we felt it was appropriate to be open and transparent and clarify the situation. We knew there were going to be questions raised about Eddie, and we think this is an opportunity to draw a line under that and move forward.

“All the things we are doing in terms of pay reduction, furloughing, cuts, and savings, we are doing that to keep the RFU family intact.”

Sweeney would not be drawn on whether the new deal – which was negotiated before the outbreak of Covid-19 in England – included a pay rise, but pointed to the pay reduction Jones and the RFU executives have taken for the next three months.

“We don’t go into the details of individual’s contracts, but he agreed immediately to take a 20% pay cut, and he has foregone his bonus for this year, so that puts his personal commitment at over 25% of his overall pay.”

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