England: Springboks coach to join Red Rose backroom team after the Rugby World Cup

Colin Newboult

2GC9H3H South Africa's Felix Jones (Defence consultant) with South Africa's Jacques Nienaber (Head Coach) during the Castle Lager Lions Series, Third Test match at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture date: Saturday August 8, 2021.

Former Ireland international Felix Jones will swap South Africa’s coaching staff for England’s after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Jones joined the Springboks just prior to the 2019 World Cup as defence consultant before becoming an assistant coach following their global tournament triumph.

The 35-year-old’s young family was the primary reason for his departure. He has been situated in the UK during his time with the South African set-up, keeping an eye on the European-based players but also joining up with the squad for competitions and training camps.

Big loss

“It’s a big loss for the Springboks to lose a coach of Felix’s calibre,” South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said.

“While we are saddened by the decision, we know how difficult it was for him to make that call and we fully understand the reasons.

“He’s been an asset to the Springboks in the last few years and the way he has evolved in his role and willingly took on additional responsibilities to ensure that the team functioned as optimally as possible in his areas of expertise, has been admirable.

“We know Felix will remain fully committed to the Springboks’ cause and give everything as we attempt to defend our Rugby World Cup title in France, and hopefully we can make it a special and memorable send-off for him later this year.”

Jones described coaching the Boks as “one of the biggest privileges in rugby” before adding: “I intend to do everything I can to ensure the team is successful until the day my contract comes to its natural end.

“The last four years has been an incredible journey for me and my family, both professionally and personally, I am indebted to so many people at the Springboks and in South Africa for that.

“My commitment to the Springboks until the end of the Rugby World Cup is unquestionable, and Rassie, Jacques (Nienaber – Springbok head coach) and the entire Springbok team know that.

“The next five months are going to be exciting and demanding, and I’m looking forward to preparing for the World Cup with this coaching team.”

Impressive coup for England

Jones’ arrival could prove to be significant for England, who are building a young and talented coaching staff.

Although the former Munster man won’t arrive until after the World Cup, he will play a key role in building towards the 2027 global tournament.

“Our immediate focus is on preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2023,” England head coach Steve Borthwick said.

“We are continuing to build our programme to be in a position to compete to be world champions once again. At the same time, I also want to ensure we are preparing for long term success for this England team, and I am excited that a coach as talented as Felix is joining next year.

“Felix has been competing at the top of world rugby during his four years with South Africa and will bring invaluable experience to our set up. Like with Aled Walters, Felix was an integral part of the team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

“Together with Richard Wigglesworth and Kevin Sinfield, we are putting in place a coaching team who have spent their careers at the highest level competing for trophies. That is exactly what we want for this England team.”

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