The Rugby Football Union has backed Eddie Jones to take England through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan but has warned that there will be a change if that tournament ends in the same disappointing way as the Six Nations.

Jones was granted a two-year extension to his NZ$1.46 million deal just prior to the Six Nations and while RFU chief executive Steve Brown insisted on Wednesday that he had no regrets about that, he did acknowledge that a performance-related break-clause would be activated if England performed as underwhelmingly as they have done over the past seven weeks.

It could get worse than three successive losses, with a three-test series in South Africa in June and a game against the All Blacks at Twickenham in November.

"If Eddie is not successful, and England are not successful, there is no contract after that [the World Cup] so that is clear-cut," Brown said. "We were not at all early [in awarding the contract extension]. It was to take the distraction away. It was the right thing to do and we stick by it."


Brown met with Jones at Twickenham this week as a scheduled review of the 2018 Six Nations got under way, with the England coaching staff all in attendance. Jones will then present those findings to the RFU board next week with a further presentation to the Professional Game Board in early April.

Brown was at pains to point out that Jones has to face accountability at various turns although he did also indicate that "the first person that puts Eddie straight is Eddie".

The Telegraph understands there will be no formal canvassing of player views as to what went wrong as there was post the disastrous 2011 World Cup campaign, when a confidential report containing strident player opinions was leaked.

"There is no need for a Spanish Inquisition crawling all over this," said Damian Hopley, chief executive of the Rugby Players' Association.

"There is a mature leadership group in the camp and a line of communication between Eddie and the players that does not need external parties involved.

"There is a lot of trust there and you don't tamper with that. I am wholly confident that if there were issues they would be raised by the senior players. There is too much finger-pointing at times like this. It just needs some honesty and straight-talking."

The RFU insists it has both the will as well as the expertise within its ranks to ensure that Jones is subjected to a forensic appraisal of the past couple of months. Even were a director of rugby to be in place, Brown does not believe it would alter his own responsibilities.

"The buck stops with me and I'm responsible for all the people at the RFU and [even if there were a DOR] I'd still be responsible," said Brown.

"There is no attempt by us to dress this up. We will learn and make sure it doesn't happen again. Eddie is self-critical, open-minded and challenges himself. We meet weekly and have dialogue daily. I am comfortable that we have the right rugby expertise round the table to ensure we have everything we need and to, at least, ask the questions."

The one matter on which Jones has been upbraided is the caustic remarks directed towards Ireland and Wales that were revealed last week. Brown reiterated both the union's apology as well as that of Jones. He also stated that the union would have the resource to appoint an attack coach if that was one of the findings from the review process.