LONDON - England's World Cup preparations are being undermined by the RFU’s state of financial turmoil, with Eddie Jones ordered to pay consultants himself — and forced to intervene to protect Richard Hill’s job.
Amid a savage round of enforced redundancies within the union, the fall-out is being felt at senior national-team level. Firm assurances that the cost-cutting measures would not have any direct impact on the England set-up appear to have been misleading.
Sportsmail understands that Jones must now dip into his own salary to pay for any consultants he chooses to bring into camp — as he has so often since taking charge in late 2015. There are indications that Jonny Wilkinson will continue to be paid using union funds, but others employed on an ad hoc basis must be funded by the head coach.
This could hamper his ability, or willingness, to employ specialists to address specific issues. England have turned to the likes of George Smith, Glen Ella, Andrew Johns, Dr Sherylle Calder, Marc Dal Maso and Graham Dawe during Jones’s tenure, but this type of input may be off-limits in the future.
In addition, it is understood that there were plans to remove 2003 World Cup-winner Hill from his post as England’s senior team manager. However, sources have indicated Jones put a stop to it.
Hill is not formally involved with coaching, but his role includes a mentoring element and the respected former flanker is appreciated by the players who he works with directly. However, in the current climate of financial turmoil there can be no certainties the England staff will remain intact.
A year before the World Cup, it is a worrying predicament. The England hierarchy are aware that up until now the RFU’s financial clout has been a vital asset. Without it, there will be doubts about England’s ability to compete with the All Blacks, along with Six Nations champions Ireland — who have the luxury of directly managing their players’ workload.