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Eddie Jones signs contract extension as England Head Coach

Eddie Jones has agreed a contract extension as Head coach of England which will take him through to the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023.

His 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.

Jones has a 78% win ratio since taking the role at the end of 2015.

"We have a great team and I am excited about raising the standards again," Jones said.

The timing of the announcement comes in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, with many at the RFU and in the wider rugby community fearing for their futures.

"My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by Covid-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news," said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Jones added: "The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing. We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together."

Jones was appointed in December 2015, replacing Stuart Lancaster after a disappointing home World Cup that autumn.

He led England to a record-equalling unbeaten run, which included a Grand Slam in 2016 and a Six Nations title the year after.

The team's form slumped in 2018, but Jones arrested the slide before the World Cup in Japan.

There, superb victories over Australia in the quarter-finals and New Zealand in the semi-finals established Jones' men as favourites to beat South Africa in the final, but an inspired Springboks performance condemned an under-par England to a 32-12 defeat.

Concerns over the impact of that loss in the final were exacerbated when England were beaten by France in Paris in their 2020 Six Nations opener, but they rallied with victories against Scotland, Ireland and Wales to seal the Triple Crown before the Championship was curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes," Jones said on Thursday.

"Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It's a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it."

If Jones does lead England through to France in 2023, he will eclipse World Cup winner Sir Clive Woodward as the country's longest-serving boss.

Jones' win record puts him alongside Woodward as one of England's greatest ever coaches, but successive RFU chiefs have had to reprimand him over his conduct.

Following the win over Wales at the start of March, the RFU apologised on Jones' behalf after he suggested referee Ben O'Keefe was biased in his decision-making.

But Sweeney is clearly comfortable that the occasional controversy that surrounds Jones is a fair exchange for re-establishing England as a leading force in the global game.

"We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides," Sweeney added.

"We have announced Eddie's contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time. We are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that."

England are third in the World Rugby rankings, behind South Africa and New Zealand.

Last month, Jones joined members of the RFU executive board in taking a pay reduction in excess of 25%, predominantly in the form of forgone bonuses, as a response to the financial impact of Covid-19.

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