Robertson eyes ‘special’ coaching role for England

England have paved the way for Scott Robertson to become their coach after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

In a move some media saw as a signal in Robertson’s favour, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney opened the door to the prospect of another foreign coach to replace Australian Eddie Jones.

The English union has drawn up a list of candidates for the top job and the rest of the coaching setup.

Robertson, 48, rejected for the All Blacks job despite repeated success with the Crusaders, is in London where he guided the Barbarians to victory over the All Blacks XV.

The drumbeat continues to grow over Robertson taking the massive job in England, with UK’s iNews reporting that the former All Black loosie has once again confirmed his interest.

“I’ve said it many times that the All Blacks are my preferred choice but if it didn’t work out that way, you know, England have so much potential, it would be a pretty special job,” Robertson said. at iNews.

“There is potential for any international job, I will make that clear because there are a few to come [after the 2023 World Cup]. My first choice is to be home. And then what other potential, if it’s England, Scotland or Australia or whatever other team is there, you have to look at it.

“I’m in constant contact with NZRU… But you consider any opportunity in international football because there aren’t many and it’s a four-year cycle.”

Robertson, who will continue to coach the Barbarians for the upcoming clashes against Harlequins and Bath, also said he admires coaches who have worked in a second team in addition to their own, including Graham Henry, Steven Hansen and Jones, whom he says he met in July when England were on tour in Sydney.

“Eddie is a great example,” Robertson said. “He asked me 10 questions and I got one right… We talked a bit about football.”

Asked what he would bring to international rugby, Robertson added: “Well you’ll get me…I like to bring energy every day and I like what I do. My job is to create an environment where everyone enjoys coming and getting the most out of themselves.

Speaking about the future of England’s coaching job, Sweeney appeared to backtrack when quizzed after the Red Roses’ defeat to the Black Ferns in the World Cup final at Eden Park .

The England chief said he never intended to automatically limit Jones’ replacement to English candidates.

“I didn’t really say that. What I said was he has to be the best coach, the right coach for the job,” Sweeney said according to The Times.

“If it was an Englishman, it makes life a little easier. The first priority is that it’s the right person, if they’re English that’s great.

But it definitely seems like a change of direction, with Sweeney being quoted in March as saying: “We think we have such a wealth of English coaches in the game.

“As a leading rugby nation, we would need to develop English coaches and an English style of play… so the preference would be to have an English setup as far as I’m concerned.

“We have a war room which has every England manager you can imagine here and abroad. We have put in place an advanced succession plan.

Robertson has one final season in charge of the Crusaders, but England apparently want to make a May appointment and let the new man work in Jones’ camp before taking over in 2024.

Those in the frame would include Robertson, Irishman Ronan O’Gara who worked at the Crusaders, and former England lock Steve Borthwick who is Leicester’s director of rugby.

Meanwhile, England are being asked to make amends for their women’s surprise defeat to New Zealand in front of a world record crowd in the Eden Park final.

And England are already talking confidently about wiping New Zealand off the record books when they host the 2025 World Cup.

Sweeney said they would fill Twickenham with 82,000 for the 2025 final, and possibly the semi-final as well.

“I’m confident we’ll get there – the game is growing in popularity now,” he said.

“Watching this match, you didn’t get the impression that it was a women’s rugby match.

“It was a competitive and very intense sporting event. In many ways, it was probably more entertaining than the men’s game.

“It was more open, with fewer stoppages and more ball time on the line. We’re not worried about being able to fill Twickenham.”

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