Jones sacking 'is utter madness' – Haskell

Jones sacking 'is utter madness' – Haskell

England's decision to sack head coach Eddie Jones nine months before the Rugby World Cup is "utter madness", according to former back-row James Haskell.

Jones' fate was confirmed on Tuesday following a review by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) into recent results.

England have endured their worst calendar year since 2008 in terms of results, having won just five of their 12 Tests in 2022, most recently going down 27-13 to South Africa.

Despite a disappointing year, however, Jones bows out with the best win rate (73 per cent) of any head coach in England's history, having won 59 of his 81 Tests at the helm.

Haskell, who played under Jones prior to retiring in 2019, believes the Australian should have remained in the position until his contract expired after next year's World Cup.

"Personally, I think it's utter madness," he told Sky Sports. "You've literally taken the most successful World Cup coach and binned him nine months before a World Cup.

"He's been to three World Cup finals [two as head coach, one as a technical adviser], he's won one [with South Africa as technical adviser, 2007] and lost two."

Jones led England to their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 13 years in 2016, then won the Six Nations tournament again in 2017 and 2020, while also reaching the 2019 World Cup final.

He won his first 17 games with England, which was part of an 18-game win streak overall, the joint longest of any Tier 1 nation.

The 62-year-old will be replaced by forwards coach Richard Cockerill on an interim basis, with Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick the favourite to take over permanently.

"The best thing is, the person [the RFU] want to replace Jones with at this point in time, and obviously it's an ever-movable feast, is not available," Haskell added. 

"So you're going to put someone else in charge for the Six Nations who hasn't been an international coach.

"All because of some grumpy old journalists, and miserable fans, who decided to gang up to get rid of him. It's pretty much the story of the modern world."

Borthwick worked alongside Jones with Japan and England before taking over at Leicester in 2020 and guiding them to the Premiership title last season.

While Haskell questioned the decision to replace Jones, fellow former England player Ugo Monye has backed Borthwick to succeed if he is appointed.

"If he is the man, I think it is a great appointment," Monye told Rugby Union Weekly. "We don't have nine months to experiment, we have nine months to nail our identity.

"He gets it. He understands the personality of the game at the domestic level, what the players want, what the fans want, it feels like a necessity to connect all that together."

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