RFU did not block Eddie Jones joining rivals for ‘legal and moral’ reasons
The Rugby Football Union decided against inserting a clause in Eddie Jones’s severance package to prevent him coaching England’s rivals at the World Cup this year for “legal and moral” reasons, it can be revealed, after he was appointed by Australia.
Jones was confirmed on Sunday night as the new Wallabies head coach, marking a stunning return to the post he left in 2005 and raising the tantalising prospect of returning to haunt his former employers in the knockout stages of the World Cup this year.
He officially takes up the role on 29 January, a little over seven weeks after he was sacked by the RFU, with Rugby Australia parachuting Jones in at the first available opportunity.
Given the length of his tenure as England head coach, Jones was subject to UK employment law which states that employees are entitled to one week’s notice per year served. In other words, after a seven-week notice period for his seven years in the job, Jones will be free to take the reins of the Wallabies.
He takes with him a wealth of intellectual property and inside knowledge on England’s players, which would be invaluable should he lock horns with his former side in France later this year, but the RFU chose not to insert a non-compete clause when agreeing the terms of his departure, nor seek to put Jones on gardening leave.
An RFU spokesperson said: “When the RFU ended Eddie’s role as England head coach, having considered both the legal and moral perspectives, it was decided it would be unreasonable to restrict Eddie in seeking alternative employment.”
Meanwhile the new England head coach, Steve Borthwick, revealed he sent Jones a message of congratulations but refused to be drawn on a potential World Cup showdown, insisting his focus was on England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland.
“I know the World Cup is around the corner but in 19 days’ time we play Scotland and that’s our focus,” Borthwick said.
“I’m delighted for Eddie that he is coaching his home country. The day that I was announced as England head coach he sent me a message wishing me the very best and this morning I sent him a message wishing him the very best.”