Less than 12 months out from a World Cup England are preparing contingencies for life after Eddie Jones should the team flop in Japan, with Warren Gatland in the reckoning to become head coach.
Jones succeeded Stuart Lancaster after England’s premature exit in the pool stages at the last World Cup. The former Japan head coach has guided England to two Six Nations titles in three years and signed a contract extension through to 2021 earlier this year.
But the RFU inserted a clause allowing them to part company with Jones if England repeat the trials of their past.
And lining up possible successors, RFU interim chief executive Nigel Melville has confirmed he is looking at Wales head coach Warren Gatland as one of the candidates he will be speaking to.
“Warren’s a very good coach but I’m not sure what his plans are,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’ll speak to Warren and a number of others and then we’ll see.”
Gatland signalled his intention to leave the WRU after the World Cup earlier this year after a 12-year reign.
But part of Jones’ brief as head coach has been to develop a homegrown English coach who would be among the frontrunners to succeed him.
The resurgence of Stuart Lancaster at European kings Leinster has not gone unnoticed by Melville, who didn’t rule out a second spell for the Leinster senior coach.
“Why would it be a problem?” said Melville of Lancaster’s possible appointment.
“I didn’t get rid of anyone. I’ll talk to anyone who has the requisite talent to do the job for us. I am English, this is England, and, of course, it would be great to have an English coach.
“I haven’t spoken to Stuart so [I’m] not sure if it’s the path that he sees for himself but we have been monitoring everyone for the past 18 months.
“We have got a spreadsheet of everything and everyone, different levels, assistant coaches, kicking coaches, all sorts.
“We have English coaches working overseas as well, quite a few of them in France [the likes of Joe Worsley, Alex King and, recently departed, Rory Teague].
“I’ll be meeting with everyone who is a potential target for us. All our top English coaches will be contacted. We have got to have the best coach for the job.”