Ian Ritchie: RFU boss says English coaches need 'international experience'

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Paul Gustard, Eddie Jones, Steve Borthwick
Paul Gustard (left) and Steve Borthwick (right) could be in line to replace Eddie Jones (centre) after the 2019 World Cup

English coaches must gain international experience if they are to replace Eddie Jones as England coach, says Rugby Football Union boss Ian Ritchie.

Australian Jones' contract runs out after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"If we want to see an objective of an English coach, then they have to go out and get some international experience," RFU chief executive Ritchie told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It's not that straightforward but that's what we will try and do."

This month, Jones called for more English coaches to gain experience working in the southern hemisphere.

Ritchie added: "Coach development in this country is about finding better and better coaches, all the way through the game but particularly at the elite level, and that's what we need to do."

England assistant coaches Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard will be in the frame to succeed Jones, 56, when he leaves the post.

Exeter coach Ali Hepher took charge of the second-string Saxons in the summer, while Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter was part of Stuart Lancaster's backroom team in Argentina in 2013.

Ritchie said the RFU will continue to work with Premiership clubs to ensure coaches gain more experience outside the English domestic game.

"We have to find the right mechanism and right collaborative approach of doing it," he said.

"We recognise we are in a partnership here, and our objective is to make English rugby the best in the world."

'We don't want summer rugby'

Meanwhile, Ritchie has confirmed that administrators worldwide are nearing an agreement on a new rugby schedule, which will come into effect after the 2019 World Cup.

As previously reported by the BBC, the Six Nations is likely to retain its place in the calendar, with Ritchie dismissing any notion of a full-on global season, which would involve one of the northern or southern hemispheres making rugby a summer sport.

"SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) do not want to play in their summer, and frankly neither do we," said Ritchie.

Under the proposals revealed earlier this month, the two hemispheres will look to closer align their domestic seasons, with summer tours the year after a World Cup set to be scrapped.

"By process almost of elimination, if you leave the Six Nations and the autumn, you are left with that focus around the summer," added Ritchie.

"We've got to reach a deal and I'm sure we will."

'Rugby must protect its values'

Ritchie believes rugby union does not currently have an image problem, but stresses the need to protect the values of the game.

The last week has seen players banned for biting and eye-gouging,external-link while there were crowd disturbances at Ashton Gate during the Bristol-Exeter Premiership match on Friday.

"We need to be vigilant about protecting the values, because they are always under pressure - the examples are there," said Ritchie.

"I don't think we should be too moralistic about having a high ground. We need to be particularly forceful about maintaining how we want the game to work.

"There is a wish within the game to protect the values, but we need to be vigilant about it."

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