England rugby bosses insist they are not lagging behind rivals like Wales in planning to appoint a new head coach to start work after the 2019 World Cup.
Head coach Eddie Jones intends to stand down after the tournament, leaving the Rugby Football Union (RFU) already assessing their options for a replacement.
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has already admitted to drawing up a three-man shortlist as potential replacements for Warren Gatland, who will also relinquish his Wales head coaching role after the 2019 World Cup.
Chief executive Steve Brown admitted the RFU are yet to compile any list of candidates, but insisted England are not falling behind in the bid to appoint the best-possible new boss after the global competition.
Asked if Wales have already stolen a march on the race for a new coach post-2019, Brown replied: “No I think we may not be that far apart actually. We’re not public yet with our thinking but we’re probably not that far apart.
“Is it three candidates that they’ve secured or is it who they might go after? There’s an element of circumstance and speculation.
“I’m not criticising their process, I’m just saying it could change quite quickly, couldn’t it, and certainly given the outcome of the tournament it could certainly change.
“I guess that’s inevitable isn’t it [that other unions will be chasing similar candidates], but it depends on when they become available, that’s the other point.
“It can be a very busy post-World Cup period, as was after the last World Cup, so I think it’s probably inevitable when you have so much success that your coach becomes very popular.”
The chief executive expects the RFU board to draw up a panel to make the appointment, but revealed that process has not yet started either.
“We’re not there yet, we don’t have the group convened,” said Brown, when asked who would be tasked with the recruitment process for Jones’ successor.
“But it’s a board decision so the board have got to agree the process first before we go through any of that.”
Confirming the RFU would consider candidates based both in England and abroad, Brown added: “We’re looking at both; we will look at both and consider both.
“It may be that we end up focusing on one or the other because that becomes the primary element of it, but we will definitely consider both.
“The situation with Eddie remains the same, his contract ends in 2019 after the World Cup but, as I’ve said previously, we continue to work on our succession plan: what are we going to do about our head coach at that point, what are we going to do in the interim?
“Our plan is certainly before we get started on the 2019 campaign and into that year to have worked it out and be clear publicly about what our plans are.”