Warren Gatland is "under no illusions" he has to deliver for Wales otherwise he risks damaging his legacy upon his return as head coach.

Wayne Pivac was relieved of his duties on Monday by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) after defeats against New Zealand, Georgia and Australia last month.

That opened the door for Gatland, a three-time Six Nations winner with Wales, to make a sensational return to the role Pivac replaced him in after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Gatland, whose first stint with Wales lasted 12 years, will take charge in the Six Nations, the World Cup in France next year and potentially through to the 2027 tournament in Australia.

The 59-year-old reached the top of World Rugby's rankings with Wales in his final year and acknowledged he must achieve similar success on his return.

When asked if his second appointment could damage his reputation, Gatland said: "That's the exciting thing about it, isn't it?

"If you're a flop and fail... I'm under no illusions what the expectations are in the next 10 months.

"I've always loved the challenge, I've always loved going into environments where there are expectations and hopefully exceeding those expectations.

"That's part of professional sport, there are ups and downs. You live by your results and performances.

"I'm excited about it, but there are pressures and risks. I'm confident I can come in and hopefully make a difference and get a side together who are proud to put that jersey on, and when they go out there and represent Wales in front of home fans they're prepared to die for that jersey.

"Those are my expectations and I don't expect anything less from the players in terms of what it means to play for Wales – the history, the expectation.

"If we can achieve that in a short period of time, I think that will give us the best opportunity to be successful."

The New Zealander inherits a Wales side that have won just three of 12 games in 2022, though he is relishing the challenge in store after leaving Super Rugby side the Chiefs.

"I can hit the ground running. Obviously, there's a new group of players," he added.

"There's a process I've got to go through over the next few weeks and get a real feel for the place again, so it's like 2007-2008 and coming in completely cold.

"That's a massive advantage I've got in terms of knowing Wales and the set-up. I can come in and hopefully be seamless in stepping into the role."

As for his long-term future with Wales, Gatland remains focused on getting his side into shape for the World Cup, which starts on September 8.

"At the moment my immediate focus is between now and the World Cup, and afterwards it's myself and Steve Phillips [WRU chief executive] talking about possibilities going forward," he continued.

"During that 10 months we've got to be showing we've made progress and we've been successful, and then potentially other opportunities arise from that.

"That's how we are at the moment. There's no certainty, but I'm comfortable with that, so if the next 10 months is not successful then you are involved in professional sport and know what the consequences are.

"I'm comfortable and confident that I can come in and make a difference, and create an environment we can be successful in. If that happens then potentially other discussions may take place.

"But I'm not looking past the next 10 months, I'm not looking past France."

England head coach Eddie Jones has hit back after criticism from Clive Woodward.

The team's former head coach called for England's situation – including Jones' position – to be "scrutinised" should they fail to beat Scotland in next year's Six Nations opener.

England suffered a 27-13 defeat to world champions South Africa on Saturday, having also recently been beaten by Argentina at Twickenham, with doubts growing over their credentials ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup following a poor showing during the Autumn internationals.

With just one win in November against Japan, England's schedule concluded with a loss to a Springboks team missing key European-based players.

Woodward led England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup crown and he believes Jones' position should be under threat ahead of the latest Rugby Football Union (RFU) review, writing in his Daily Mail column: "England are not just losing, they are going backwards at an alarming rate of knots.

"A full and totally transparent review must be done immediately to look into where the team are at. As head coach, Eddie Jones has serious questions to answer. Everything must be scrutinised."

 

Speaking to Men's Health UK, Jones issued a sharp response, claiming he is currently at the peak of his coaching powers.

"I feel sad for him [Woodward]," he said. "If that is the best thing he has to do in his life, then he hasn't a lot to do.

"I'm 62 now and I think in pure coaching terms I am coaching better than I ever have. Results aren't always perfect, but I'm happy with how I have been coaching.

"After this, I want to do something really meaningful. I've enjoyed England a lot, it was a bit of a rescue job at the start, now rebuilding, and I am confident I will leave things in good shape."

Jones has already said he will leave the role after next year's World Cup.

Eddie Jones should be sacked as England head coach if his side fail to beat Scotland in next year's Six Nations opener, says former boss Clive Woodward.

The Australian oversaw a 27-13 defeat to world champions to South Africa on Saturday, another chastening result for his side ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup following a loss to Argentina at Twickenham.

With just one win in November against Japan, England were well beaten by a Springboks team missing key European-based players,

Woodward, who masterminded the Red Rose's 2003 Rugby World Cup, believes Jones' position should be under threat ahead of the latest Rugby Football Union (RFU) review.

"England are not just losing, they are going backwards at an alarming rate of knots," he wrote in his Daily Mail column.

"A full and totally transparent review must be done immediately to look into where the team are at. As head coach, Eddie Jones has serious questions to answer. Everything must be scrutinised."

Woodward has pointed to the RFU's culpability too, in reference to a review panel that has assessed his tenure periodically.

The 66-year-old feels he should have been asked to investigate the incumbent head coach, while shooting down suggestions he wants a role within the governing body.

"Since 2019, when Jones' England failed to turn up in the World Cup final, this anonymous panel has conducted two utterly pointless reviews," he added.

"For reasons which have never been explained to me, I have never been invited to participate in any of these reviews. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I believe I am the most qualified Englishman to conduct an investigation.

"People might read that and think I'm angling for a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. The role as RFU director of rugby would have interested me 10 years ago, but that ship has long since sailed.

"Jones needs to feel some serious heat from his employers. I would say to him: 'Forget the next World Cup, if you lose your next game against Scotland in the Six Nations you're out of your job.'

"If Jones has to get paid off [through his contract], then so be it. Stop talking about the World Cup. It epitomises the cosy culture of English rugby and is a sure-fire way to keep your job no matter how poorly you perform.

England will face Scotland at Twickenham on February 4 to kick off their Six Nations campaign ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Glen Ella says Eddie Jones will be thriving on coming under fire and expects England to step up when they face Australia in a three-match Test series next month.

The 62-year-old heads back to his homeland with the Red Rose smarting from a chastening warm-up hammering at the hands of the Barbarians following a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

Jones is undefeated against his country of birth during his England tenure, and famously oversaw a series whitewash in 2016.

Ella, a former school-mate of Jones who also played club rugby with him at Randwick and was his assistant six years ago, feels he will conjure up a response with his back against the wall and with key men to return.

"I sit here laughing when I see some of the press that is coming out of England," he told The Guardian. "Some of it is warranted, there’s no doubt about that, but this is what he thrives on.

"They’ll come over here and put three good games together, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

"He thrives under that kind of pressure and that probably brings the best out of him, especially away from England, in an environment that he knows.

"He probably left not on the best terms in Australia but the one thing about Eddie is that he’s got a lot of belief in himself and a lot of belief in his team."

The Wallabies will have a point to prove after failing to get the better of England under Jones and they are a different proposition under Dave Rennie.

"It’s harder coaching a foreign team, as Eddie is finding at the moment, and to win the Australian public over they need to win the series," Ella added.

"But it’s a different Australia these days and especially with the Super Rugby sides on the up, there’s big expectation. England have beaten the Australians eight times under Eddie and so [Australia’s] got a lot to answer for."

 

Eben Etzebeth is open to the idea of South Africa playing in the Six Nations in future, saying he would "love" to participate in the competition.

The Springboks are committed to playing in The Rugby Championship with Argentina, Australia and New Zealand until 2025, but it has been rumoured that the organisers of the Six Nations are considering inviting them to join beyond that.

South African club sides now take part in the United Rugby Championship, also involving teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

While Etzebeth plays for Toulon in France, he has signed on to play for the Cell C Sharks from the 2022-23 season.

Speaking to the Rugby Roots programme, the lock said: "I think the Six Nations would be good for us.

"Obviously, it just makes sense with us playing in the URC at the moment against the same competition."

The 30-year-old – who has 97 caps for South Africa – would still like to be able to play against the other Southern Hemisphere sides, and hopes a balance can be found.

"Maybe we could have a full June series against New Zealand, play in the Six Nations and then have an end-of-year tour in Australia or Argentina," he added.

"I would love to join the Six Nations, but I would also love to still play those other teams as well. Maybe they (World Rugby) can get a good balance.

"At the end of the day, for me, it's just about playing for South Africa."

Eddie Jones' successor as England head coach will be appointed ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) targeting an Englishman for the job.

Australian boss Jones has spent six and a half years in charge of England and is under contract until after next year's showpiece event in France.

The 62-year-old had been under increasing pressure following another disappointing Six Nations showing for England, who finished with two wins from five matches.

However, the RFU this week assured Jones that his job is safe for now, though the former Japan coach was warned that nobody is "bulletproof".

Providing a further update on the position on Saturday, RFU performance director Conor O'Shea suggested a new coach could work alongside Jones at the World Cup before taking over.

"The plan for us will be to appoint that coach before summer 2023," O'Shea said. "Whether that's embedding them into the programme or taking a helicopter view, that's a discussion to be had. 

"We would like to think we will be appointing them in the lead up to 2023. We have so many top English coaches who are in a great position.
 
"Eddie has worked with Steve [Borthwick], Neal [Hatley], Gussy [Paul Gustard]. You look across the Premiership and then you see the quality of people overseas. I want them to be English and I believe [they] should be."

He added: "The rationale is we need to appoint so we have got time to embed the new coaching team and allow them to hit the ground running. Eddie is fully aware and knows what we want to do. 

"There will be some people who say that will disturb the World Cup prep because people will be looking over their shoulder.

"[Fabien] Galthie was appointed before the 2019 World Cup and it's the right thing to do because we need to get ready for the 2024 Six Nations."

The RFU's focus on a homegrown coach would rule the likes of Warren Gatland, Steve Hansen and Rassie Erasmus out of the running, but chief executive Bill Sweeney is confident the right approach is being taken.

"We believe we've got such a wealth of English coaches in the game," he said. "As a leading rugby nation we should be developing English coaches and an English style of play. 

"That should be long-term and therefore the preference would be to have an English setup as far as I'm concerned. 

"We've got a war room that's got every English coach you can imagine – based here and based internationally. We've got an advanced succession plan in place."

England's Six Nations performance has been labelled "incredibly disappointing" by Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Eddie Jones' side backed up a poor 2021 championship campaign with just two wins from five again, as their third-place finish lagged far behind France and Ireland.

A year-and-a-half out from the 2023 World Cup across the channel, England look unlikely to contend for the crown as they did in Japan in 2019.

"We are all, as an organisation, incredibly disappointed with what happened this year in the Six Nations," Sweeney told the media. "You'd expect more.

"To come away with fifth-place last year and two wins, and then going into this year's Six Nations feeling in good shape and expecting more, to only have a further two wins out of 2022 and come third was incredibly disappointing for us.

"We demand more in terms of our results and performances. Emotions have been running very high, it still feels quite raw. There is a great deal of frustration and disappointment."

Sweeney paid tribute to England supporters for their contributions, while stressing the team has still made progress under Jones in the last year.

"We saw a fantastic response from the fans during the Ireland game, one of the best examples of connecting with the team," he added.

"We understand why they're expecting more and feel not in a great place at the moment.

"We do feel there's been some real positive developments. We do feel we're on a path to the right direction. If you look at where we were 12 months ago: we're in a better place.

"It's a very tight-knit squad. There is a strong spirit. The players believe in [Jones] and believe he's taking them in the right direction.

"We're very excited by developments despite the fact we're coming out of a very difficult period. We know we're going to get better."

The Rugby Football Union's (RFU) claim England made progress during a tough Six Nations campaign has been criticised by ex-international Ugo Monye, who called their statement "dishonest".

Eddie Jones' side finished a distant third behind Ireland and Grand Slam winners France, managing just two wins from their five games.

It marked a second successive dismal Six Nations, far removed from reaching the final of the 2019 World Cup that marked the high point of the Australian's tenure in charge.

Now, a year-and-a-half out from the 2023 World Cup in France, the RFU has sought to frame their results as stepping stones, but Monye – a 14-time England international – believes such claims are untruthful.

"I want to know who in the RFU thinks that signifies progress and are happy with how things are," Monye told BBC Sport's Rugby Union Daily podcast.

"Fundamentally it's just dishonest. There isn't progress. With the financial backing, the player pool and the coaching staff they have you cannot be winning two out of five games two years in a row.

Eddie Jones has been assured his job as England head coach is safe for now.

A disappointing Six Nations performance does not appear to have substantially altered the Rugby Football Union's stance on the former Australia and Japan coach.

It means Jones is set to lead England on their tour when they face the Wallabies three times in July, and increases the likelihood he will remain in charge heading into a World Cup year. Jones has a contract that runs to the end of the 2023 World Cup in France, and the 62-year-old intends to step away from the job after that tournament.

England's fortunes have nosedived since winning the 2020 Six Nations, and the Triple Crown in that championship. They have finished with two wins from five Six Nations games in each of the last two campaigns, which in 2021 saw them finish fifth but this time around was good enough for third place.

That was a distant third to second-placed Ireland, however, and England could not prevent France clinching a Grand Slam when the teams met on Saturday evening in Paris.

An RFU spokesperson said: "Eddie Jones is building a new England team and against a clear strategy we are encouraged by the solid progress the team has made during this Six Nations campaign."

England were narrowly beaten by Scotland, before defeating Italy and Wales, raising hopes of a strong finish to the championship.

Yet a 32-15 Twickenham loss to lreland, after Charlie Ewels was sent off in the second minute, ended hopes of a championship challenge, and was followed by England going down 25-13 at the Stade de France.

The spokesperson added: "Eddie and his team of coaches and players will conduct a full review as is normal after each tournament.

"The RFU advisory panel which consists of board and executive members, former players and coaches along with Eddie will also undertake a de-brief to discuss the strong positive steps forward during this campaign and the areas we need to address.

"The advisory group has been in place since 2019, and it meets regularly both during and after each tournament to evaluate clear targets and progression.

"The RFU continues to fully support Eddie, the coaching team and players and we are excited about the summer tour and the progress to rebuild a winning England team."

England head coach Eddie Jones has called upon fans to maintain faith in the team's development after a disappointing Six Nations campaign ended with a 25-13 loss to France.

Saturday's defeat to the Grand Slam champions ensured England finished third in the 2022 standings, after Wales suffered a shock loss to Italy and Ireland beat Scotland in the final round of fixtures.

England have now lost three games in three separate editions of the Six Nations under the Australian, having done so just twice in 16 campaigns prior to his 2015 appointment.

But Jones has called upon supporters to maintain faith in the team, which he says is going through a "rebuilding" process ahead of next year's World Cup in France. 

"They [England fans] have got to have some faith," Jones said on Sunday. "I think I have done a reasonable job for England over the past seven years.

"We are going through a period now where we are rebuilding the team and it takes time. Look at the French team, it took them three years to win the [Six Nations] Championship [after appointing head coach Fabien Galthie in 2019].

"We have rebuilt the side from the last Six Nations [after finishing fifth in 2021]. I think the progress is very positive, [but] the results aren't the results we would like.

"We would all like to be winning tournaments and be top of the table, but we are not quite good enough to do that now.

"But within the next 12 to 14 months when we prepare for the World Cup, we will be."

England head coach Eddie Jones conceded he had not "done a good enough job" after his side suffered a 25-13 loss to France, who secured a long-awaited Six Nations title and Grand Slam on Saturday.

A second-half try from Freddie Steward gave England hope, but Antoine Dupont went over on the hour to secure victory for Les Bleus at the Parc des Princes.

It was England's third defeat of the tournament, and the third time they have lost as many under the Australian, having done so just twice in 16 editions before his appointment in 2015.

Questions have been asked about Jones' position, but following the defeat, the 62-year-old said they were "for other people".

"That is not a question I need to answer," he said. "I just do my job, it is a question for other people to answer. I am not even thinking about that."

"I'm disappointed, disappointed for the fans, for the players, I obviously haven't done a good enough job, I accept that, but we're moving in the right direction. The results aren't good enough. When you rebuild a team it takes time.

"France are deserved champions of the Six Nations, they are the best team, but we had enough chances to win that game, we just didn't put them away, we were not quite clinical enough in doing that.

"That has been a little bit of the story of us in the Six Nations, we have put ourselves in position to win the three games we have lost but not been clinical enough, not been good enough, particularly in some of our clean out work to win those games.

"So that is disappointing, but the spirit we showed is going to make sure this team keeps moving in the right direction."

England finished in third-place after Wales' shock loss to Italy and Ireland's win over Scotland in the final round of matches in the 2022 tournament.

France coach Fabien Galthie called his side's Six Nations title "destiny" after he led them to their first Grand Slam in a dozen years with a 25-13 win over England on Saturday.

Les Bleus triumphed on their own turf at the Stade de France to throw down a gauntlet ahead of next year's home World Cup, where they will now be among the hot favourites.

Speaking after the full-time whistle confirmed they had edged Ireland for the crown, Galthie was ecstatic to get over the line two decades on from winning the championship as a player.

"After the frustration of second place, to finally be in first?" he said. "It's great. We're not doing somersaults yet because we're at a press conference, but they will come!"

"There was a lot of tension during the match, because there was a lot of expectation. The symbolism of the Grand Slam was strong.

"We've not experienced this type of close match, [and] this tension jumped out at us. But it's an incredible first experience that will make us grow even more.

“It proves that we made the right choices, built the right team. It also means that we are on the right path with a team that is still young.

"This Saturday evening, the average age was 26 years old. The team will continue to grow and progress until the World Cup."

"It's a long way between 2002 and 2022. But there is no coincidence. The path makes the destiny. Twenty years earlier, I am on the ground.

"Twenty years later, I am in the stands and I accompany the players to claim the trophy. It's nice to still be able to touch this feeling!"

With the 2023 edition of the World Cup on home soil, France will be heading in pursuit of a maiden triumph, having finished as runners-up three times since 1987.

France team manager Raphael Ibanez celebrated a "major step" for rugby in the country after Les Blues secured a Six Nations Grand Slam with a 25-13 win over England.

Antoine Dupont's 61st-minute try made safe France's first Six Nations title since 2010, with England's Freddie Steward having reduced Les Blues' 18-6 half-time lead in Paris.

France have now won their sixth title since Italy joined the competition in 2000, with only England (seven) boasting more successes in that time, with Wales also winning six.

After capping a fantastic campaign, France have also won their last six Grand Slam deciders in the Six Nations (and previously in the Five Nations), winning the decisive match in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2022 when going into their final game with a 100 per cent winning record.

Speaking to ITV Sport after the win in Paris, Ibanez labelled the triumph a "major step" for French rugby, but called upon the team to continue improving, insisting "there is more to come".

"Twelve years is a very long time [without a title] and it's been a very intense final game," Ibanez said. "But we got the reward. 

"I think we were very lucky to have a fantastic group of players.

"Fair play to England, they tried to break our defence, but I think the team spirit and tactics won us the game. 

"I would recommend our players to keep their feet on the ground because it's a major step for this team tonight and there is more to come. 

"I think we can still improve our game."

France lock Thibaud Flament said he was struggling to process the achievement in its immediate aftermath.

"It's an amazing feeling," the 24-year-old told ITV. "I'm so happy for the team.

"We knew it was going to be a very tough game. The defence was really good, and we managed to win in the end.

"I still can't believe what's happened. It's an amazing feeling and I'm so proud."

No team has secured the Six Nations Grand Slam on more occasions than France, with Les Blues doing so for the fourth time after also accomplishing the feat in 2002, 2004, and 2010. Only Wales can match that haul of 100 per cent records.

England captain Courtney Lawes was left with contrasting emotions as his side succumbed to a 25-13 loss to France, who secured a long-awaited Six Nations title and Grand Slam on Saturday.

Marcus Smith's eight points from the boot and a second-half try from Freddie Steward kept England in contention, but Antoine Dupont slipped over on the hour to claim victory at the Parc des Princes.

That condemned Eddie Jones' side to three losses in the tournament for a third time under the Australian, having done so just twice in 16 editions before his appointment.

As France lifted their first Six Nations title since 2010 and sixth overall, Lawes could only hail the efforts of his team despite acknowledging the frustrations of losing out again.

"We're pretty disappointed to be honest," Lawes told ITV after the game. "We certainly had them in fitness – we felt like they were getting tired and we just failed to capitalise.

"It's on us and we've got a lot to learn from obviously. But I'm proud of the boys' effort still.

"It's hard to say straight after the game but we'll go back and iron out any kinks. It is what it is and we'd have obviously have loved to go out and get the win.

"I really thought we were going to do it at a few stages in the game but we didn't capitalise well enough.

"We really believed we could spoil the party – and I know we were capable of it because we've got the team for it. We just need to be more clinical, execute better and we can't let them off the hook that many times.

"They got so many turnovers at the breakdown and we didn't deliver there."

England ended up settling for third-place in the 2022 edition, having lost to Scotland, Ireland and France and defeating Italy and Wales.

Meanwhile, France will be eyeing World Cup glory on home turf next year after managing their fourth Grand Slam, with only Wales recording as many in the championship.

Ireland scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park was over the moon after his side's dominant 26-5 win against Scotland in the Six Nations.

The victory earned Ireland the Triple Crown after they previously defeated both England and Wales. It is the first time Ireland have beaten the other three home nations since 2018.

In a decisive showing, Ireland opened the contest with two converted tries in the first 28 minutes, opening up a 14-5 lead at half-time before adding two more tries in the run home.

Ireland's victory also put them in with a chance of winning the Championship, though they were relying on England to defeat France in Saturday's final game – a result that did not materialise as Les Bleus completed the Grand Slam with a 25-13 victory in Paris.

Gibson-Park was thrilled with the result in front of Ireland's adoring fans in Dublin.

"It's unbelievable, what a feeling to be back at home and back in front of our home fans and families," he said after helping Ireland claim their biggest Six Nations win over Scotland since 2015.

"What a moment to savour, back in front of our home fans and our families. We're chuffed man. We'll have a good night."

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