England turned to the man who masterminded arguably the biggest upset in rugby history to revive its national team on Friday, with Eddie Jones hired on a four-year deal and becoming the country's first foreign-born coach.
Jones, a 55-year-old Australian, was bought out of his contract with South Africa's Stormers franchise in Super Rugby and will take charge of England from December, ahead of its opening Six Nations match against Scotland in February. "The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world's most high-profile international rugby job doesn't come along every day," Jones said, "and I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity."
Stuart Lancaster was fired as England coach after his team became the first host to fail to advance from the pool stage at the recent Rugby World Cup. The Rugby Football Union, the world's richest union, said it wanted to hire a coach with proven experience of international rugby, unlike Lancaster, and Jones fitted the bill.
Jones coached Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, where it lost to England, and was a technical adviser with South Africa's World Cup-winning side in 2007. He later took the helm of Japan and guided the Brave Blossoms to the most stunning result in World Cup history, a 34-32 win over the Springboks at the World Cup two months ago.
"I'm now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup, and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game," Jones said. "I believe the future is bright for England."
Western Province said in a statement that it had agreed to terms with the RFU, with Jones having only started a stint in charge of its Stormers team in Super Rugby last week.
"We promised to recruit a coach with proven international experience and we have done that," RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said. "Eddie is a world-class coach, with extensive experience at the highest level with Australia, South Africa and Japan. We believe that the appointment is the right one to bring England success in the short, medium and long term.
"We are confident Eddie can build on the strong foundations already laid, with this talented group of players largely remaining together through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and beyond."
Jones has also coached the Canberra-based Brumbies in Super Rugby, and had spells with the Queensland Reds, English team Saracens and Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.
England has largely underachieved since capturing the World Cup in 2003, winning only one Six Nations title. Under Lancaster, the team finished runner-up in the Six Nations for four straight years from 2012 and flopped at the World Cup when it lost to Wales and Australia in the pool stage.