London — Steve Borthwick has been appointed as the new head coach of the England men’s rugby team on a five-year contract, the Rugby Football Union announced Monday.
Former England captain Borthwick, previously in charge of Premiership champions Leicester, has replaced Eddie Jones just over nine months out from the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Veteran coach Jones was sacked nearly a fortnight ago after the Australian presided over England’s worst year of results since 2008, managing only five wins from 12 games.
That included an Autumn Nations campaign where England won just one of four games in November and suffered a defeat by Argentina – their opening pool opponents at next year’s World Cup.
The RFU also announced Leicester assistant coach and former rugby league star Kevin Sinfield will join Borthwick as England’s new defence coach.
England’s new coaching duo have just seven weeks until their first Test in charge – a Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4.
“I’m deeply honoured to be appointed England head coach, and I am very excited by the challenge,” said Borthwick in a statement.
“The English game is full of talent and I want to build a winning team which makes the most of our huge potential and inspires young people to fall in love with rugby union the way I did.
“I want the whole country to be proud of us and to enjoy watching us play.”
The 43-year-old, who spent five years as an England assistant coach under Jones, added: “The hard work starts now and planning for the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup begins today. I will give it everything.”
Leicester, meanwhile, announced Richard Wigglesworth would take over as interim head coach following Borthwick and Sinfield’s early release from their club contracts, with the former England scrumhalf retiring from playing as a result.
The Tigers are currently fifth in the Premiership and unbeaten in the Champions Cup after Borthwick led them to a victory over French side Clermont on Saturday.
Warren Gatland, now in charge of Wales for the second time, Ronan O’Gara and Scott Robertson were touted as possible replacements for Jones but Borthwick always appeared to be the RFU’s favoured candidate to succeed the outspoken former Australia and Japan coach.
Borthwick, who played as a lock for Bath and Saracens and won 57 caps for England, began his coaching career in 2012 as assistant to Jones with the Japan national team.
A spectacular win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup was the highlight and when Jones took over England later that year, Borthwick came too, with the team winning a Six Nations Grand Slam in their first season in charge.
Borthwick’s role was overseeing the forwards, with the line-out his main area of expertise. But he also performed the key role of coaching coordinator and was seen as a key figure behind the scenes.
The pair helped guide England to a 2019 World Cup final, only for South Africa to triumph 32-12 in the showpiece match in Yokohama.
Borthwick left to take over at Leicester in 2020.
Since his departure, England have struggled for consistency as the churn of backroom staff accelerated in the face of Jones’ demanding managerial style.
When Borthwick was hired by Leicester, they were reeling from their 11th-place finish in the 2019/20 season.
With Borthwick at the helm, the Tigers stabilised and this year claimed their first league title since 2013.