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Key agreement reached in English rugby

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/07/2016 Duncan Bech

England's aim of supplanting New Zealand as world champions in 2019 has moved a step closer after a new agreement was finalised between its Premiership clubs and Twickenham.

The Rugby Football Union believes the eight-year deal, which is worth in excess of STG200 million ($NZ375 million), has offered head coach Eddie Jones the best possible chance of masterminding success at the next World Cup.

The 'Professional Game Agreement' finalised with Premiership Rugby Limited will see the size of the England elite player squad increase from 33 to 45 with up to 36 players able to be selected for training camps.

Jones can now name his elite squad in the first week of October when previously the deadline was late August before the Premiership season had even begun, denying the opportunity to use form to guide decisions.

Furthermore, two additional training camps will be staged, in early October ahead of the autumn internationals and in the first week of January as part of the build-up to the Six Nations.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie says Jones was heavily involved in shaping the details of the deal.

"We feel we've got the balance right and Eddie is very happy with the access it gives him to players.

"This is a true partnership focused on making English rugby the best in the world for club and country."

Ritchie's decision to appoint Jones as Stuart Lancaster's replacement has been rewarded with a Grand Slam and last month's 3-0 series whitewash of Australia.

England are ranked second in the world behind the All Blacks and Jones has repeatedly stated his ambition of transforming them into the global game's dominant force.

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