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Rugby Union: Jones retains RFU support despite fifth-place Six Nations finish

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Six Nations 2018: Ireland beat England to win Grand Slam - highlights
The Rugby Football Union does not regret extending England head coach Eddie Jones' contract, despite their chastening fifth-place finish in the Six Nations. Jones signed a new deal until 2021 in January, but his reigning champions won just two Six Nations matches this year.RFU boss Steve Brown says Jones retains his "unwavering support", after a "very disappointing" campaign.
"At the moment there is no knee-jerk reaction," Brown told BBC Sport."The key now is how we respond and turn things around. The reaction I've seen from Eddie and the coaching staff gives me some confidence that we are in a good place and we will get this back on track."
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Jones is meeting his coaching team this week as they seek to stop England's alarming slump in form, with a three-Test series away to South Africa coming up in June.England beat Wales and Italy in their opening two Six Nations matches, but then lost in Scotland and France before being beaten by Ireland at Twickenham."We are on the right trajectory, although clearly not in the last three games," Brown said. "The reaction for me is the test as to whether someone has the calibre and character, and I've seen that. We will never get a bigger test than South Africa. It's as big a series as there is every going to be."Brown conceded that Jones does have a lot of control and authority at Twickenham, but denied the Australian is running an autocratic regime with the England side. He described the 58-year-old as someone who is "constantly learning, self-evaluating, self-critical" and said his demanding nature is "a reasonable position".However, Brown did admit Jones' disparaging remarks towards Ireland and Wales were "regrettable", and says he personally apologised to his chief executive counterparts at the Irish and Welsh unions. "Eddie has apologised to me personally. We have drawn a line under the matter. It doesn't fit with the way we think or the way Eddie thinks," he said.Brown has ruled out the possibility of English rugby moving to a central contract model - used by world champions New Zealand and Six Nations champions Ireland - in the near future, and believes the current structure is "optimal" for success.Former head coach Sir Clive Woodward is among those to describe England's players as "out on their feet" during the Six Nations, citing a punishing schedule over the past year.The RFU and the Premiership clubs are 18 months into an eight-year deal around payments and player access, with the players primarily contracted to their clubs."We won't have central contracts whilst there is an eight-year agreement in place," Brown said. "That agreement stands firm. "There are elements that allow us to talk about player release, based on welfare of players, but it's not going to turn on its head and turn into central contracts overnight. "Honestly, my personal opinion is the balance is about right. The key is to make sure there aren't too many matches. It's got the potential to be a very strong system."
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