Eddie Jones has been sacked as England head coach after seven years in charge of the team.
The Rugby Football Union acted in response to a dismal autumn which concluded England’s worst year since 2008, including six defeats, one draw and five wins.
Jones has been under contract until the end of next year’s World Cup but now looks set to be replaced by his former number two Leicester’s director of rugby Steve Borthwick.
In its statement announcing his sacking, the RFU revealed that forwards coach Richard Cockerill will take charge of England on an interim basis.
Jones was told on Monday night that his reign in England was over, with confirmation during a meeting with Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney at Twickenham on Tuesday morning.
“It’s important to recognize the huge contribution Eddie has made to English rugby, winning three Six Nations, one Grand Slam and taking us to a World Cup final,” Sweeney said.
“He has the highest win rate of any England head coach and has helped develop the leadership skills of many players and coaches.
“I am grateful to Eddie for all he has done for England in many areas of the game and for the professional way he approached reviewing the team’s performance.
“He provided the panel with insightful insights and meaningful lessons that will support the team’s performance going forward.”
Jones found himself fighting for his future after a terrible fall that produced a lone win over Japan and ended in defeats against Argentina and South Africa.
An anonymous panel of experts appointed by the RFU reviewed the campaign and concluded that Jones’ departure was necessary to improve the team’s fortunes with the World Cup opener against the Pumas just nine months away. .
The findings of the review were submitted to the RFU board, which on Monday morning pulled the trigger on the 62-year-old Australian’s reign despite his winning record of 73%.
“I’m happy with everything we’ve achieved as an England team and can’t wait to see how the team performs in the future,” Jones said.
“Many of the players and I will no doubt stay in touch and I wish them all the best of luck in their future careers.”
As well as revealing that Cockerill will take care of the team’s affairs for the time being, the RFU declined to reveal the identity of Jones’ long-term replacement.
“The RFU will now conclude the long-term work it has undertaken on coaching succession planning, with changes to be announced in the near future,” a statement read.
Borthwick is the overwhelming favorite to succeed Jones, who gave the former England captain his first coaching role in 2012 when he was Japan boss.
The 43-year-old Cumbrian resigned as England forwards coach after the 2019 World Cup, joining Leicester who he transformed from fallen giants into Gallagher Premiership champions last season.
Despite their split, Jones and Borthwick have remained in close contact, with the Australian a regular visitor to the Tigers training ground.
Alternatives to Borthwick have been reduced since last week. La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara ruled himself out, while another option in Warren Gatland was renewed by Wales on Monday.
Only Scott Robertson of the Crusaders remains an alternative to Borthwick, but his lack of international experience and lack of understanding of the English game would make him a riskier option.