New England boss makes huge promise to Twickenham fans
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Steve Borthwick vowed to get Twickenham “roaring” after being appointed head coach of the England on Monday with just nine months to revive their flagging fortunes until the 2023 World Cup.
Former England captain Borthwick, previously in charge of Premiership champions Leicester, succeeded veteran coach Eddie Jones. The Australian was sacked following England’s worst year of results since 2008, with only five wins from 12 games.
“To be appointed to this role fills me with incredible pride and I’m honoured to take on this job,” Borthwick, told a Twickenham news conference on Monday.
“Now I know that pride will count for nothing if we don’t deliver,” added Borthwick, who spent five years as an England assistant coach under Jones.
Borthwick said he wanted the team to reconnect with their fans after Jones’ last match in charge, a 13-27 defeat to world champions South Africa, ended with England booed off the pitch at Twickenham.
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“The stadium has changed a bit,” said the 43-year-old Borthwick, who made his Test debut in 2001.
“But from that day the thing that will always stick in my mind is as you stepped outside the tunnel, the noise that hits you in this stadium.”
Borthwick’s first game is the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4.
“It’s not very long before we play Scotland here and when this team walks out of that tunnel, I want to hear that roar louder than ever,” he said.
“Our job as a team, my job as a coach in helping prepare that team, is to give our supporters plenty to roar about.”
Borthwick said he spoke to coaching mentor Jones last week, adding: “I’m grateful for everything Eddie has done throughout my coaching career to support me.”
But, he added: “Right now, if you look at the November series, I don’t think England are ranked in the top three in any one particular facet of the game.”
Asked about his immediate aims, he reflected on his early days as an England international under 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, latterly one of Jones’s sternest critics.
“In every single meeting there were posters on the wall – I was 20, 21 – and the poster that I always referred to was one that said ‘brilliant basics’,” recalled Borthwick.
“We have a lot of work to do, but first and foremost we have to be brilliant at the basics come that first game in 47 days’ time.”
Warren Gatland, now back in charge of Wales, Ronan O’Gara and Scott Robertson were touted as possible replacements for Jones but Borthwick was always the RFU’s favoured candidate.
“We had discussions about post-2023 and Steve was always our lead choice and preferred candidate to come in and do the England job,” said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.
The RFU also announced Leicester assistant coach and former Great Britain rugby league international Kevin Sinfield will join Borthwick as defence coach.
Borthwick played as a lock for Bath and Saracens and won 57 caps for England.
He began his coaching career in 2012 as assistant to Jones with the Japan national team, culminating in a stunning win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup.
When Jones took over England later that year, Borthwick came too. The team won a Six Nations Grand Slam in their first season.
They guided England to the 2019 World Cup final, losing to South Africa 32-12 in Yokohama.
Borthwick left for Leicester in 2020 and this year guided the Tigers to their first league title since 2013.
England have struggled for consistency as Jones’ demanding managerial style led to a churn of backroom staff.
Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final and a consultant to the Springboks’ side that won in 2007, said Monday he was open to offers ahead of France 2023.
“If I’m asked to help a team at the World Cup, I’ll consider that proposition very carefully,” he told French sports newspaper Midi Olympique.