STATEMENT: Former England head coach has passed away - Ruck

STATEMENT: Former England head coach has passed away

Former England head coach Jack Rowell passed away on Monday at the age of 87.

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Rowell transformed Bath into a dominant force in the 1980s and 90s, following his success with Gosforth in his native North-East.

Standing at an impressive 6’7″, Rowell led Gosforth to two John Player Cup victories before guiding Bath through a golden era at The Rec.

As England head coach, Rowell oversaw 29 Tests, winning 21 of them, and shifted the team’s style from a forward-oriented game to a more expansive approach.

His tenure began with a 32-15 victory over South Africa in June 1994, and he returned the following year to lead England to the semi-finals of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. He also secured a Five Nations Grand Slam and three Triple Crowns during his time in charge.

Rowell stepped down as England coach when his contract expired in August 1997 to focus on his business interests, serving as Chairman, CEO, and Director of several prominent public companies in the food industry.

John Hall, former Bath captain and club president, paid tribute to Rowell following his passing on Monday.

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sense of loss that we pay tribute to the late Jack Rowell, who passed away on the afternoon of July 1, 2024, and marks the end of an era for Bath Rugby. Many of us played under Jack for more than a decade and he was not just a coach to us; he was a visionary leader whose influence on our club, its players and supporters left a legacy that will endure through the ages.

“His strategic thinking and passion for the game transformed the club and our team into champions, both on and off the field. The numerous titles and victories we celebrated together are a testament to his exceptional leadership and deep understanding of rugby.

“Jack was a mentor and a friend to many of us and had a huge influence with our club and international careers. His ability to inspire and motivate was unparalleled, creating a tough environment where players and staff alike could thrive. Jack’s commitment was to excellence in all aspects of the game and he set a standard that made us the club we are today.

“Several former players, who were close to him, recently had the opportunity to visit and spent time by his bedside. Despite his health challenges, it was heartening to witness that his sharp wit remained intact until the very end. We grieve his passing but also celebrate his remarkable life and the profound impact he had on Bath Rugby throughout the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.

“On behalf of everyone at Bath Rugby, players, staff and fans, we extend our deepest condolences to Jack’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. We will always be grateful for the moments we shared and the wisdom he imparted. Jack Rowell was truly one of a kind, and his memory will always hold a place of honour at our club.

“Rest in peace, Jack.”

THE BEST England XV of the last 50 years has been selected

The Telegraph’s Chief rugby writer Mick Cleary, who is the finest rugby scribe in the game today, has selected a quite phenomenal England XV from the last 50 years.

The selection features players from various generations, from the games amateur roots, through professionalisation to the global sport rugby is today.

You can view his articles here. Read on to see the BEST England XV.

Fulback: Jason Robinson (2001-2007, 51 caps)

“Robinson was a menace whatever number was on his back, a bewildering opponent, a man seemingly able to sidestep in mid-air, with pace and nerve and vision, tough in the tackle, intelligent in his use of angles and selfless when it came to creating openings for teammates,” wrote Cleary.

Winger: David Duckham (1969-1976, 36 caps)

“There is still a seared image of him in the memory bank with ball tucked under his arm, back arched, legs firm, blond locks flowing, all balance and power, causing an opposition defence no end of misery.”

Outside-centre: Jeremy Guscott (1989-1999, 65 caps)

“‘The Prince of Centres,’ was how Guscott was described by Clive Woodward. And he wasn’t wrong.”

Inside centre: Will Greenwood (1997-2004, 55 caps)

“At 6ft 4ins, Greenwood had a physical presence himself but it was the judgement he brought to the field of play that marks him out,”

Winger: Rory Underwood  (1984-1996, 85 caps)

“Give him the ball, point him in the direction of the try-line, sit back and applaud.”