Steve Borthwick has been named new England men’s rugby head coach on a five-year contract to replace Eddie Jones, who was sacked earlier this month.
A former England captain during his playing days, Borthwick has marked himself out as one of the sport’s bright young coaches in recent times. The 43-year-old led Leicester Tigers to their first Gallagher Premiership title since 2013 earlier this year, having joined the club after they finished 11th in the 2019-20 campaign and will now have the England reins until 2027.
Before taking over at Tigers, he spent five years as England’s forwards coach working for Jones, after three years as assistant coach for Japan towards the end of his playing career – also under the Australian.
Jones was sacked by the RFU earlier in December following the worst year of results for the national team since 2008, climaxing in a dismal autumn campaign, and the quiet Cumbrian will have no time to waste as he looks to rapidly turn fortunes around with the 2023 Rugby World Cup just nine months away.
In something of a coup for the RFU, Borthwick has also brought his highly-rated defence coach Kevin Sinfield – the former England and Great Britain rugby league international – to Twickenham with him from Tigers.
The new coach’s first match in charge will be the Six Nations opener against Scotland on 4 February, before a home game against Italy the following week and then a trip to Wales a fortnight later.
Speaking about his appointment in the official statement from the RFU, Borthwick said: “I’m deeply honoured to be appointed England head coach, and I am very excited by the challenge.
“The English game is full of talent and I want to build a winning team which makes the most of our huge potential and inspires young people to fall in love with rugby union the way I did. I want the whole country to be proud of us and to enjoy watching us play.
“The hard work starts now and planning for the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup begins today. I will give it everything.”
CEO of the RFU, Bill Sweeney, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Steve back to the RFU. He has been part of the England team for over 15 years and he is our first-choice successor to Eddie.
“Steve and Kevin’s insight and first-hand knowledge of the players will be a great asset and everyone at the RFU is right behind them with our full support.”
As Jones’s former number two, Borthwick is seen as the glue behind the scenes of one of the most successful periods in English rugby history. His time as forwards coach for the national team included a grand slam, another Six Nations title and a World Cup final appearance.
A tough second-row who played his entire professional career at Bath and Saracens, he amassed 57 caps for England and served as captain for the last two years of his time as an international.
From an early stage, he proved a natural leader, his rugby intelligence matched by total commitment to the team, making him a central figure in every rugby environment he has worked in. For Saracens, he was as much on-field coach as uncompromising front-five forward, his analytical approach to the game initially finding its home most at the line-out, his main area of expertise.
Borthwick played a crucial role in elevating Saracens from a middling club to the dominant English force and his influence in north London was spoken of in reverential terms by team-mates and colleagues.
Now he will try to help England go one better than the 2019 World Cup in France next year but faces a race against time, with only the Six Nations and a few warm-up games left before the tournament gets underway.