Eddie Jones has vowed to stay on as England head coach after Saturday's humiliating World Cup final defeat to South Africa, with the RFU planning to open talks over extending his contract until the end of the 2023 tournament.
Jones' current deal expires in August 2021 and the Australian is adamant he will not walk away despite his England side, heavy favourites before the match, producing arguably the worst performance of his tenure in their comprehensive 32-12 loss in Yokohama.
The 59-year-old repeatedly refused to commit himself beyond the end of that deal when asked on Saturday night, but RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney on Sunday gave Jones a resounding vote of confidence when he declared opening talks about a new deal was one of his "first priorities".
Jones would not be drawn on that but was adamant he would still be in charge when England open their Six Nations campaign against France in Paris on February 2.
"I'll definitely be there, I'm contracted for another two years," he said. "I'll be in work tomorrow mate, ready to go. I'm sorry guys, I'm going to be there for another two years. I'm sorry to disappoint you."
When asked whether he would like to take the team to the next World Cup he declared that the current England side was "finished now", adding: "We'll make a new team for the Six Nations and that new team will be the basis of going to the next World Cup. And I'll have them for the first two years. And you're so lucky because you've got me for another two years, guys. How good is that?"
When pressed again on why he would only commit to two years he said: "Because I've only signed for two years. That's the contract. It's not my decision. I think there is a Union that gives out contracts and they decide how long the contracts are, not the coach."
Just hours after that statement the Union gave their answer, with Sweeney declaring he will attempt to convince Jones - who is reportedly being targeted by Australia to replace Michael Cheika - to extend his deal until after the World Cup in France.
"It makes sense, doesn't it [to have four years rather than two]?" said Sweeney as the squad prepared to fly back to England early this morning. "If you are going to go through to France in 2023 it is nice to have that unbroken stretch but both parties have to be completely happy with it.
"Eddie is committed to fulfilling his contract through to the end of August 2021 and we will let the dust settle and chat about it when we get back. There are a lot of emotions flying around after a game so we will see where his head is at. It is one of the first priorities for us.
"We have already had a couple of conversations. We will formalise that more when we return. You don't like these things to hang out there for a long period of time. It will be sooner rather than later."
When asked whether he feared Jones might quit, Sweeney said: "No. We are conscious [of the interest] but I don't lose any sleep over other countries thinking about him."
Sweeney intends to have a two day review process in mid-November to go over every aspect of the World Cup campaign, from planning to logistics to training camps to player involvement and performance. The RFU will consult face-to-face with every player in the 32-man squad to elicit their views in front of a panel that Sweeney is currently putting together.
Planning is also well progressed on putting together Jones's management team for the Six Nations. Forwards coach Steve Borthwick is bound for a head coach's job at Leicester while scrum coach Neal Hatley is returning to Bath. Defence coach John Mitchell signed a two year extension to his RFU contract in the summer while attack coach Scott Wisemantel has yet to commit to anything. The RFU is hoping to announce the back-room staff, too, in the coming weeks and acknowledges that it would be "good to have a succession plan (for English coaches) in the pipeline".
Sweeney has complete faith in the current regime and dismissed the need for an exhaustive review into how England were so comprehensively outplayed in the final.
"I don't think there will be a post-mortem on last night," said Sweeney. "We will talk to Eddie and ask him what he thinks of what happened. Sometimes you have everything perfect and everything lined up and it just doesn't come off. The team was ideally prepared, was in great shape and they were committed. We won't sit down and have a post-mortem on the game per se. There is still a lot of growth in this regime. Look where we were four years ago. Eddie has a lot more to offer yet. The job is not done yet."
Even though there have been significant cash-flow problems prior to Sweeney's arrival at the RFU, the chief executive has pledged to fund the England team to the same degree as over the last four year cycle, disclosing also that former England captain, Will Carling, will continue to use his contacts in the City to raise funds. The RFU has plans to capitalise on the feel-good mood engendered by the team's run to the final by distributing 10,000 rugby balls around grassroots clubs in the next month alone, one of five post World Cup initiatives ready to go.
Sweeney wants to work more closely with the Premiership clubs on issues such as player identification in particular positions. He has also discussed with them appropriate rest periods for returning World Cup players.
"We talked about it (rest) being a mandated thing but the preference was for to allow it to be at the discretion of the clubs," said Sweeney who stated that he expects England to aim to be number two in the world rankings. "We'd expect them to have a degree of rest. They value top-class players as much as we do. I think we should (aim) to never be out of the top two. We have the resources."