CHRIS FOY: Eddie Jones turns to South Africa's forwards mastermind

CHRIS FOY: Eddie Jones turns to South Africa’s forwards mastermind who crushed England’s Rugby World Cup dreams in November

  • Eddie Jones has hired South Africa’s World Cup-winning forwards coach
  • Matt Proudfoot was part of the side that crushed England’s World Cup dreams
  • Nick Isiekwe proved he has bounced back with stellar performance vs Munster
  • Veteran Rory best has bemoaned a coaching overkill at this year’s World Cup

England’s World Cup crusade unravelled in the face of a scrum onslaught by the Springboks last month, so Eddie Jones is seeking to hire their set-piece guru in an overhaul of his coaching staff.

Matt Proudfoot played four Tests for Scotland, but he is a former South African front-rower and served as the Bok forwards coach under Rassie Erasmus.

His sterling work culminated in the World Cup final in Yokohama on November 2 when Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira and Co won six scrum penalties to inspire a 32-12 victory over England.

Former South Africa forwards coach has joined Eddie Jones’ coaching staff at England

Jones can’t sign the Beast, so he is poised to do the next best thing by bringing in the man who revived his destructive instincts to devastating effect.

Proudfoot has coached at the Stormers in Cape Town and briefly at Kobe Steelers in Japan, before taking up a role with South Africa, his contract expired after the World Cup.

His signing is not thought to be a done deal yet, but the RFU should be able to make him an offer he cannot refuse.

It will not be the only coaching appointment made by Jones as he refreshes his management team. Sportsmail understands that candidates have been identified and terms agreed.

Newcomers to the set-up are due to be formally announced late next month. If Proudfoot is one of the additions, there will be at least one other.

England’s scrum coach at the World Cup Neal Hatley has returned to Bath

England’s scrum coach at the World Cup, Neal Hatley, has returned to Bath and forwards coach Steve Borthwick is due to join Leicester by the end of the season — although his move to Welford Road could even happen before the Six Nations.

That might be possible if Proudfoot is brought in or if Jones’ senior assistant, John Mitchell, is given extra responsibilities having so far been acting as a defence and breakdown specialist.

Scott Wisemantel has returned to his native Australia after being head-hunted by the Wallabies, so the attack coach needs replacing.

Exeter’s Ali Hepher led the national ‘A’ team on a tour of South Africa in 2016, while Sam Vesty is impressing at Northampton. Saints are not keen to let him go.

With an Australian head coach supported by a New Zealander and possibly a South African, there must be room for at least one native coach.

Eddie Jones has overhauled his coaching staff that reached the Rugby World Cup final


Nick Isiekwe hasn’t played for England since suffering an uncomfortable fate in Johannesburg 18 months ago, when he started against South Africa but was replaced three minutes before half time at Ellis Park, without the excuse of an injury. 

It was a harsh experience for the Saracens rookie but the latest evidence suggests he has made positive strides and could be on Eddie Jones’ selection radar again soon. 

On Saturday, the 21-year-old lined up at blindside flanker and produced a stellar performance against Munster at Thomond Park — making 26 tackles and winning eight lineouts. In a forbidding venue, Isiekwe showed he is ready for another shot at Test rugby — either in the back row or at lock. The same can be said for Quins No 8 Alex Dombrandt.

Nick Isiekwe (right) made 26 tackles and won eight line-outs for saracens against Munster


The Lions unveiled their 2021 tour schedule last week and it confirmed that the age of romance and old-school touring is over. For ever. 

It is all about money now. Rugby’s endangered species are now regarded as a cash machine for the home unions and the country they visit — in this case, South Africa. 

On the last tour, to New Zealand, there were two Tests in Auckland. Next time, there will be two Tests in and around Johannesburg. It’s all about maximising capacity and profit. 

Any sense of an adventurous, missionary spirit has been crushed under the stampede for vital revenue. Meanwhile, Premiership Rugby refuse to condense their season by one week to aid the Lions’ cause — as confirmed in their gleeful statement to that effect. 

They would cancel Christmas and shoot Bambi, too, if it would earn them a few quid. 

Dan Evans was sent off after just 37 seconds of the Ospreys’ Champions Cup defeat by Racing — deservedly so. 

On commentary, former Wales captain Sam Warburton sympathised with the home full back, saying: ‘You are coached to lift your leg up to defend yourself when you catch those high balls.’  

That is true, but it was the secondary move — the raising of the lower leg — which meant that the sole of Evans’ boot struck Teddy Thomas in the face. That move could have been avoided and rightly incurred the ultimate on-field sanction. 

Lifting a knee in the act of leaping is fair enough, but raising studs after making the catch certainly is not.

Dan Evans saw red for Ospreys after just 37 seconds and Sam Warburton agreed with the call



15 T Marshall (Gloucester)

14 S Ezeala (Clermont Auv’gne)

13 G Moala (Clermont Auv’gne)

12 C Ngatai (Lyon)

11 J Lowe (Leinster)

10 F Russell (Racing 92)

9 J Cooney (Ulster)

1 C Healy (Leinster)

2 A Van der Merwe (Sale)

3 A Porter (Leinster)

4 I Henderson (Ulster)

5 Q Roux (Connacht)

6 A Dombrandt (Harlequins)

8 F Lee (Clermont Auv’gne)

7 J Van der Flier (Leinster)

Young Clermont Auvergne wing Samuel Ezeala ran amok at Bath with two tries and a glorious assist after he brilliantly claimed Fritz Lee’s pass one-handed, at pace on the right flank.


Rampaging La Rochelle prop Dany Priso showed that Chris Ashton does not have a monopoly on swallow-dive finishes, when he leapt to score elaborately at Stade Marcel Deflandre.


Aled Davies made amends for his earlier yellow card by leaping over a ruck on Racing 92’s line to stretch and score one-handed for the Ospreys in a losing cause in Swansea.


There were some decent Challenge Cup contests over the weekend but some abject surrenders, too. Agen were the worst offenders as they leaked 73 points at home to Bayonne.


Jack O’Donoghue brought the house down at Thomond Park when his 94th-minute lineout steal denied Saracens the chance to drive over and potentially snatch a last-ditch draw.


Brad Barritt made his 250th appearance for Saracens. His England career may have faded, but he has been a stalwart figure for his club — playing better and better in recent years.

Brad Barritt made his 250th appearance for Saracens and has been a stalwart for the club


Rory Best has received a number of ovations in the run-up to retirement and the ex-Ireland captain should receive another for exposing a glaring issue in the game. 

Asked to reflect on the Irish World Cup campaign which ended in yet another quarter-final exit, the Ulsterman suggested that they had suffered from coaching overkill. 

Best said there was ‘too much detail and too much tension, too early.’ He added: ‘If the players don’t fill the space, they (coaches) are going to fill it.’ His point was that coaches are desperate to cram information into players prior to big games, but it can go too far. 

This has become a problem in the era of vast management teams. One of Warren Gatland’s greatest attributes is his willingness to limit training and meetings, which is why he has done well with the Lions. 

Less can be more. Too many meetings and drills creates robots and structured tedium. 

Rory Best has bemoaned a coach overkill where there is too much information given to players

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