England's low-key return home
THE AFTERMATH: England coach Eddie Jones arrived back in London on Monday giving little away about his future as the Rugby Football Union prepared to start its World Cup debrief.
The 31-strong England squad made a low-key return from their World Cup campaign in Japan, two days after their sobering 12-32 defeat by South Africa in the final in Yokohama.
There was no media access at Heathrow Airport and, although a few cheers rang out from waiting fans, there was little reaction from the players as they made their way into the arrivals hall in terminal 5.
Jones, whose long-term future is up in the air, also gave little away as he walked expressionless through the barriers.
He is contracted for another two years but RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney wants the 59-year-old Australian to commit for the next tournament in France in 2023.
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“One of the first priorities …will be to sit down and have a chat. We will do it as a matter of urgency,” Sweeney said on Sunday.
“Eddie is committed to his contract through to the end of August 2021 and he is fulfilling that.
“There are a lot of emotions flying around after a game so let the dust settle a little bit and then see where his head’s at, see how he feels about it.
“But the first step is to honour that contract through to 2021 and then we’ll discuss what goes on beyond that.”
England’s low-key return was a far cry from 2003, when Clive Woodward’s triumphant England team brought London to a standstill as they paraded the Webb Ellis trophy on two open-top buses past an estimated 750,000 crowd in the centre of the capital.
Plans for a similar victory parade were scrapped when Jones’ men lost to the Springboks in Saturday’s final.
Jones admits a number of the 31-man squad are to be jettisoned for the Six Nations as he begins rebuilding for the next assault on the global stage.
“I tell you what happens to teams – they evolve,” said Jones in the wake of England’s Yokohama defeat.
“Some guys will lose desire, some guys will lose fitness, some guys will get injuries, and there’ll be young guys come through. So this team is finished now.
“There will be a new team made – we’ll make a new team for the Six Nations and that new team for the Six Nations will be the basis of going to the next World Cup.
“And I’ll have them for the first two years.”