England rugby chief executive Bill Sweeney has dispelled speculation that Eddie Jones might walk away from his role as head coach after the World Cup.
According to Sweeney, the Australian has given categorical assurances that he will see his contract through to 2021 in tandem with defence coach John Mitchell, who has just been granted a two-year extension on his original deal.
Sweeney is the fourth executive to be overseeing contractual matters at Twickenham since Jones was appointed in the wake of England's dismal performance at the 2015 World Cup.
Sweeney has joined from the British Olympic Association and made it a priority to clarify the head coach's position. He has made it clear that Jones will be responsible for directing England's future through to 2021 and possibly beyond.
"There was speculation that Eddie would go post-World Cup but he has never indicated that was the case," said Sweeney, who admitted that he had not studied Jones' contract to see if there was a break clause. "Eddie has said to me very clearly that he was committed to staying until 2021 and is not looking to go anywhere else. You can only take somebody at their word. To have any speculation out there pre-World Cup would be disruptive."
Sweeney professed himself to be "confident" that the union could handle any contingency were there to be fallout from the World Cup in Japan. Stuart Lancaster was sacked despite a six-year deal.
This was Sweeney's first public briefing since taking over from Steve Brown, who shocked the union when resigning after only 14 months in office, with Nigel Melville taking over in an interim capacity. It had been an aim of the union to see English coaches nurtured, but that has failed to materialise in any significant form.
The RFU has had a turbulent couple of years, with serious financial difficulties impacting on many of their programmes in both the professional and community game following a £30.9 million loss and 62 redundancies. Sweeney moved to allay fears on several fronts.
"There is definitely no crisis here, no financial crisis [either] as the business is cyclical," said Sweeney, who will address the RFU council for the first time today. "There is no denying we have gone through a difficult period, [but] not life-threatening. It has not derailed the high-performance system for English rugby."
The RFU has still to be wholly persuaded that World Rugby's plans for a new Nations League will get the union's approval ahead of a decision to be made by the end of this month.