With the Rugby World Cup a little over a year away, the high turnover of backroom staff in Eddie Jones’s England operation is set to continue.
Team psychologist Dan Abrahams has not had his contract renewed, but the Rugby Football Union deny that Dean Benton has left his role as head of sports science.
It was this morning reported that Benton will leave, which would make him the third senior member of Jones’s management team to depart within the past 14 months.
Paul Gustard, who was defence coach, joined Harlequins in May, while Rory Teague, who worked with the backs, departed for Bordeaux-Begles in France’s Top 14 last summer.
However, an RFU spokesman said: “Dean Benton is still part of the England set-up — we are not commenting any further at this stage.”
Benton has been with England since 2016, having been hired by Jones from Australian rugby league club Melbourne Storm.
Gustard toured South Africa with England before taking up his new club role, but the saga to replace him has rumbled on all summer. Talks with John Mitchell, the former All Blacks head coach who now works with the Bulls in South Africa, are ongoing and he is set to be announced soon. Despite wildly different starting points, a compensation fee with the Bulls is close to being agreed.
This morning, it was reported that England tried to lure Andy Farrell back from his role with Ireland, but England’s former defence coach and father of Owen, who captained his country on their summer tour of South Africa, declined the offer. Farrell worked with England under Jones’s predecessor Stuart Lancaster and the Lions in 2013 and 2017 but is contracted with the IRFU until 2020.
Jones names his next squad on September 20, for a training camp in Bristol on the weekend that follows. The squad will also have a camp in Portugal before an autumn series which takes in fixtures against the Southern Hemisphere’s big three: South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Japan, next year’s World Cup hosts, complete the opposition.
England started brilliantly under Jones, including a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016 and a clean sweep on the summer tour of Australia later that year. But until winning the Third Test dead rubber in South Africa, England had lost five successive Tests.