How do you pick your assistants?

With Eddie Jones now starting his reign with England, one of the immediate things he will look to sort out will be his coaching team. For me this begs the question of how do you go about selecting your assistants? Having paid it some thought I think the questions below are the ones that he will be asking.

  1. They need to share the same coaching philosophy as you.
    Yes you need different perspectives to get new ideas as well as keeping the coaching methods inventive. However, you will need to share the same ideals to not send a conflicting message to the players. It is really important not to come across as muddled in your thinking and approach as this will not create an environment which enables players to thrive.
  2. They are likely to be familiar.
    Think of when you start a new job and how difficult and strange it can be not knowing anyone. This is why familiarity is so important. I’m not saying the whole coaching team needs to have worked with him before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was at least one name that he has worked with previously. This will also help to create a united front to the players and get the other coaches up to speed with his methods and philosophy.
  3. Coaching isn’t limited to just the players, coaching coaches is also important.
    Eddie Jones has already stated he is looking to have some English coaches which he will look to groom for after 2019. This will help to add some continuity to the coaching structure within the English game. This would imply that he will include a young English coach somewhere in this setup.
    The role of the manager is to help develop the players but an additional important role is to develop the coaching team. This all round development is what every good manager does.

So who are the candidates that might be involved in coaching England to Japan 2019? Here is a list of people that I think could be a good fit beyond the current group of Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt.

Paul Gustard – Defence coach of Saracens and the brain behind the wolf pack. He worked with Eddie Jones and has since gone from strength to strength especially with Sarries at the top of the league.

Alex Sanderson – Forwards coach of Saracens, he worked with Eddie Jones briefly at the Queensland Reds and then again at Saracens. He has a tireless work ethic and is really developing into a student of the game.

Alex King – Attack coach for Northampton Saints he won pretty much everything you could imagine while playing at Wasps before building an excellent reputation at Clermont Auvergne helping them to win the Top 14 for the first time in 2010. He has a reputation for inventive back play

Ali Hepher – Backs coach at Exeter Chiefs. He has Exeter playing some of the most attractive rugby in the premiership with some young English tyros leading the way through attacking space and not seeking contact.

Steve Borthwick – Forwards coach at Bristol and in his playing days at Saracens Eddie Jones was his coach. He also worked very closely with him by being the forwards coach for Japan in the recent world cup, where they played some stunning rugby. He also has the experience of international coaching as an assistant with Eddie which could count in his favour.

Neal Hatley and Toby Booth – Both first team coaches at Bath and have previously both coached at London Irish, they have plenty of experience in coaching at the premiership level and have helped to transform Bath into real contenders with a strong scrum, forwards and inventive and creative backs.

Shaun Edwards – Defence and backs coach at Wales. He is a proud English man who coached Wasps to incredible success in the club game, he has also coached Wales to several 6 nations championships and is coming to the end of his contract. The question is would he be happy for an assistants position.


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