There are changes at the top for the Wales and England rugby teams after Wayne Pivac and Eddie Jones were axed last week.
But what lies in store for their replacements? Read on to find out…
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Can Gatland turn Wales around?
Wayne Pivac always had a tough act to follow.
Warren Gatland won three Grand Slams and guided his team to two fourth-placed finishes at the World Cup before leaving Wales three years ago. The man was worshipped everywhere from Cardiff to Colwyn Bay.
Even after lifting the 2021 Six Nations and winning a Test in South Africa for the first time in Wales' history, it felt as though Pivac was on a hiding to nothing — simply because he wasn't Gatland. And after autumn defeats to Georgia, Italy and Australia, his sacking felt inevitable. Now, Wales fans have Gatland, their hero, back at the helm. So what can we expect to see from Warren's Wales Mark II?
Logic suggests they're going to be a far more dangerous animal. The experienced backbone of the team are very much 'his' players; Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dan Lydiate, Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny may all be in their 30s, but they should feel energised by the return of a coach with whom they achieved so much.
Throw in younger talents such as Louis Rees-Zammit and the promising Rio Dyer and it's not inconceivable that Wales warm-up for the World Cup with a strong Six Nations campaign. They begin at home to the number one-ranked side, Ireland; beat Andy Farrell's side and momentum will surely build.
The task facing Eddie Jones’ replacement
It’s hard to look back on Eddie Jones’ tenure as England's head coach as anything other than a success. His winning ratio of 73% is the best in history; in 2017 he guided his side to a record-equalling 18-match winning run, and in 2019, he masterminded one of the all-time great victories over New Zealand to reach the World Cup final. If it was based on stats alone, he’d still be in charge.
The problem for Jones is that things went downhill after losing that World Cup final to South Africa. England notched just two Six Nations victories in 2022 and finished fifth in 2021. They’ve lost their last two meetings with Scotland, who hold the Calcutta Cup. And bar victory over a tired Japan side and an astonishing 10 minutes in the 25-25 comeback draw with New Zealand, their Autumn Internationals series was a disaster.
As a result, the feel-good factor had gone from Twickenham. At times players looked confused and Jones’ selections often raised eyebrows — did he even know his best team? There seemed to be instability behind the scenes, too, with a frequent changing of assistants and backroom staff.
With that in mind, the first task facing Jones’ replacement — who may well be Leicester’s head coach Steve Borthwick — will be to pick his coaching team.
Will Borthwick opt for his deputy at Leicester, Kevin Sinfield, to be defence coach? Who’s the attack coach best placed to help him unlock the full potential of talents such as Marcus Smith, Manu Tuilagi and Jonny May? And can he establish some stability, which the setup has lacked over the past couple of years?
Get all that sorted and win back the Calcutta Cup in the opening fixture of the Six Nations and Twickenham will soon be bouncing again.