Eddie Jones still in line to lead Lions to SA

Eddie Jones (Getty)
Eddie Jones (Getty)

Cape Town - RFU chief executive Steve Brown says Eddie Jones' contract extension would not prevent him from being able to lead the British and Irish Lions in 2021.

Jones signed a new contract as England head coach until 2021 on Wednesday, extending the original contract supposed to only keep him in the role until after the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup.

However, this will not 'prohibit' Jones from succeeding Warren Gatland as Lions coach in a role he has been widely touted for for the Lions' tour of South Africa in 2021.

"This wouldn't prohibit him at all. Bear in mind that we're a quarter-shareholder in the Lions and we'll have some say in that too," Brown said.

"If we're planning for success, we've come out of very successful World Cup and Eddie is the right coach for the Lions then our arrangement isn't going to preclude that.

"We're not ruling it out, but it's quite a way away and there are a lot of things to happen before then."

England are determined the progress they have made under Jones' coaching will be maintained and have extended his contract by two years until 2021.

In accepting the extension Jones, 57, said his focus remained on winning next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan but he would stay on for another two years to facilitate a 'smooth transition' to a new coaching team.

His successor would be appointed during the 2020 season and he would work with the new coach until the summer of 2021.

Since taking on the England job in the wake of the 2015 Rugby World Cup humiliation when failing to make the playoffs on home soil, Jones has seen the side win 22 of the 23 Tests they have played.

"It's quite exciting. The team has great potential. I would also like to be involved in creating a sustainably successful team, I can play a role in doing that," Jones said.

"First priority is to win the Rugby World Cup. Then after making sure the guy who takes over has a good team, good structure.

"Hopefully I can play a role in ensuring that happens. It is quite a unique situation in world rugby to be able to do this and I'm delighted to be able to take part in this process," he told media.

"It doesn't change anything, our first priority is to win the Rugby World Cup and everything we do over the next period of time is geared towards that."

The British & Irish Lions are set to tour South Africa in 2021 but Jones brushed off talk that he might be interested in coaching that side.

"I've always been committed to England since I started. That's my role.

"I am not arrogant or presumptuous enough to think I would be offered the Lions role," he said.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Steve Brown said looking beyond 2019 was the obvious consideration when he took on his job four months ago.

"We also absolutely needed a succession process, we have not had that before," he said.

"In the past we have tended to have this disruptive reset of our coaching teams at the end of every four-year cycle. We wanted to avoid that and also have a smooth transition into the next head coach," he said.

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