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England’s new rugby boss Borthwick wants to revive Twickenham ‘roar’

Steve Borthwick vowed to get Twickenham “roaring” after being appointed as the new head coach of the England rugby team on Monday with just nine months to revive their flagging fortunes until the 2023 World Cup.

Former England captain Borthwick, previously in charge of Premiership champions Leicester, has succeeded veteran coach Eddie Jones after the Australian was sacked following England’s worst year of results since 2008, managing only five wins from 12 games.

“To be appointed to this role fills me with incredible pride and I’m honoured to take on this job,” Borthwick, told a Twickenham news conference on Monday.

“Now I know that pride will count for nothing if we don’t deliver,” added Borthwick, who spent five years as an England assistant coach under Jones.

He also explained how he wanted the team to reconnect with their fans after Jones’ last match in charge, a 27-13 defeat by world champions South Africa, ended with England booed off the pitch at Twickenham.

The 43-year-old Borthwick, who made his Test debut in 2001, said: “The stadium has changed a bit since that point. But from that day the thing that will always stick in my mind is as you stepped outside the tunnel, the noise that hits you in this stadium.”

And with Borthwick’s first game in charge of England, the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4, he added: “It’s not very long before we play Scotland here and when this team walks out of that tunnel, I want to hear that roar louder than ever.

“Our job as a team, my job as a coach in helping prepare that team, is to give our supporters plenty to roar about.”

Borthwick paid tribute to Jones’ influence by saying: “I spoke to Eddie last week. I’m grateful for everything Eddie has done throughout my coaching career to support me.”

‘Brilliant basics’

But he added: “Right now, if you look at the autumn series, I don’t think England are ranked in the top three in any one particular facet of the game.”

Asked about his immediate aims, he reflected on his early days as an England international under 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, latterly one of Jones’s sternest critics.

“In every single meeting there were posters on the wall — I was 20, 21 — and the poster that I always referred to was one that said ‘brilliant basics’,” recalled Borthwick.

“We have a lot of work to do, but first and foremost we have to be brilliant at the basics come that first game in 47 days’ time.”

Warren Gatland, now back in charge of Wales, Ronan O’Gara and Scott Robertson were touted as possible replacements for Jones but Borthwick was always the RFU’s favoured candidate to succeed the outspoken former Australia and Japan coach.

“We had discussions about post-2023 and Steve was always our lead choice and preferred candidate to come in and do the England job, so I’m absolutely delighted he is here today,” said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

The RFU also announced Leicester assistant coach and former Great Britain rugby league international Kevin Sinfield will join Borthwick as England’s new defence coach.

Leicester, meanwhile, said Richard Wigglesworth would take over as interim head coach, with the former England scrum-half retiring as a player.

Borthwick, who played as a lock for Bath and Saracens and won 57 caps for England, began his coaching career in 2012 as assistant to Jones with the Japan national team. 

A spectacular win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup was the highlight and when Jones took over England later that year, Borthwick came too, with the team winning a Six Nations Grand Slam in their first season in charge.

The pair guided England to a 2019 World Cup final, only for South Africa to triumph 32-12 in the showpiece match in Yokohama.

Borthwick left for Leicester in 2020.

Since his departure, England have struggled for consistency as the churn of backroom staff accelerated in the face of Jones’ demanding managerial style.

When Borthwick was hired by Leicester, they were reeling from their 11th-place finish in the 2019/20 season but this year they claimed their first league title since 2013.

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