Australian Jones named England's new rugby coach in 4-year deal

London (AFP) - England on Friday named Australian Eddie Jones as their first foreign head coach with the task of reviving the national team after its World Cup disaster.

Jones has agreed a four-year deal in place of Stuart Lancaster.

The former Australia and Japan boss has been released from his contract with South African provincial side the Stormers and will take up his England post next month.

"The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world's most high profile international rugby job doesn't come along every day, and I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity," Jones said in a RFU statement.

Lancaster stood down on November 11 after England became the first host nation to be knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said he wanted a coach of "proven international experience" and Jones was an immediate favourite as current Australia boss Michael Cheika and New Zealand assistant Wayne Smith ruled themselves out of the running.

Jones was Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England and four years later was a member of South Africa's back-room staff when they became world champions.

This year saw Jones, who in 2013 suffered a stroke, oversee Japan's impressive performance at the World Cup, which included a shock defeat of South Africa -- the biggest upset in the tournament's history.

The 55-year-old's CV also includes a spell in charge of English Premiership side Saracens.

- 'Bright future' -

"I'm now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game," said Jones.

"I believe the future is bright for England."

Jones, having stepped down as Japan coach, was barely a week into his time with the Stormers.

He told his first press conference at the Stormers that he was "committed" to the Cape Town-based side.

However, in Friday's statement, Jones insisted: "When I was appointed at Western Province Rugby there was no vacancy within England and I never envisaged this opportunity to come forward.

"I remain very grateful to WP for this opportunity and I would sincerely like to apologise to anyone that might have been affected by my sudden decision to leave Cape Town."

Ritchie said: "Eddie is a world-class coach, with extensive experience at the highest level with Australia, South Africa and Japan.

"We believe that the appointment, which was unanimously approved by the RFU Board, is the right one to bring England success in the short, medium and long term."

Ritchie added: "We are confident Eddie can build on the strong foundations already laid, with this talented group of players largely remaining together through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and beyond."

- 'Manage players' -

Jones's appointment could see him bring former England captain Steve Borthwick, his forwards coach with Japan but now at English club side Bristol, into his backroom staff.

Lancaster's England assistants -- Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt -- all remain under contract with the RFU, but Jones is likely to want to select his own team.

As things stand, England's players are under contract to their clubs not the RFU, who also operate a policy of refusing to select anyone at an overseas side for Test duty save in "exceptional circumstances".

But in an interview published with the ESPN website, Jones said: "How can you manage your players when they are controlled by other organisations?

"In my opinion, that is the single greatest task ahead of whoever is going to be appointed as the next England coach."

Jones, whose first game in charge will be England's Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6, also hit out at the "dour" rugby played in Europe's leading annual international tournament compared to the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship.

"The Six Nations is a dour affair and is built on the foundation of not allowing the opposition to score points, he said.

"On the flipside, the Rugby Championship is all about scoring more points than the opposition," the former Brumbies boss added.