Jones won two World Cups with South Africa. Dan Sheridan/INPHO
New gig

England confirm that Felix Jones is their new defence coach

The two-time World Cup winner started off as an attack specialist.

ENGLAND HAVE CONFIRMED that former Ireland international Felix Jones is their new defence coach, with previous defence specialist Kevin Sinfield moving into a new role.

Jones has joined England after helping South Africa to back-to-back World Cup successes and though his move had been confirmed last year, only now have England clarified his exact role in head coach Steve Borthwick’s staff.

36-year-old Jones was previously the Munster attack coach before he turned down a contract extension offer from the province in 2019. He then joined his former Munster boss Rassie Erasmus in the Springboks set-up just before they won the 2019 World Cup.

Jones’ role with the Boks initially involved analysis of opposition teams but he was soon involved in hands-on coaching of all areas of their game. His influence within the group grew over the following fours years. Jones was based at home in Ireland in between the Boks’ competition windows, dealing with South African players based around Europe.

All the while, he learned more about the defensive side of the game from one of the best, Jacques Nienaber. The Springboks’ defensive mastermind was also at Munster during the short Erasmus era and is now the senior coach in Leinster.

Having started his coaching career working on the attacking side of the game, Jones will now become the England defence coach for the start of the upcoming Six Nations.

“I am tremendously excited to start working with Felix who is a coach with an incredible reputation and with vast experience in international rugby,” said Borthwick.
“With his background in Irish rugby and his wealth of knowledge operating in the Southern Hemisphere, he will bring a different dimension to our coaching team.”

Rugby league legend Sinfield took on the defence coach role in December 2022 but now moves into a new position as England’s skills and kicking coach.

As they aim to build on their third-place finish at last year’s World Cup, Richard Wigglesworth will continue as England’s attack coach and Tom Harrison remains the scrum coach.

Borthwick has added Kiwi coach Andrew Strawbridge as a consultant coach for the opening four weeks of the Six Nations. Strawbridge was New Zealand’s skills consultant at the 2023 World Cup.

“Andrew is another coach with a wealth of knowledge,” said Borthwick. “He has worked extensively and successfully in Super Rugby and international rugby, most recently with New Zealand to help them to the final of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“Andrew has an incredible reputation in player development and has helped a large number of players progress to be amongst the best in the world. His work around the contact area is incredibly highly regarded, ensuring teams have the quick ball needed to launch a threatening attack. I can’t wait for him to join the team and add the enormous value that I know he will bring.”

England open their Six Nations campaign away to Italy on Saturday 3 February and will take on Ireland at Twickenham in the fourth round on 9 March.

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