Nellie (90) tells Eddie 'winning fixes everything'
SPOTLIGHT: Eddie Jones says his mum Nellie anxiously texted him last year after a run of poor results as England coach, asking him if he was going to get the sack.
One can only imagine how she’s feeling now.
Jones has presided over the Wallabies’ poorest World Cup campaign in history, with the side bombing out before the quarterfinals for the first time.
Jones says Nellie, in her late 90s, no longer texted him but her message is still clear.
“She says ‘just win: winning fixes everything’. And I think it does,” Jones said.
With two wins from four World Cup matches – the only two in nine Tests since Jones began his second stint as Wallabies coach in January – Nellie has reason to worry.
Jones said through the tournament he was happy to be the “fall-guy” for their results with an independent review to be conducted into the Wallabies’ horror show.
“We came in with the understanding it’s a nine-month job, see what we could do and then everyone will sit down and have a look at what we’ve done, where we want to go and make a decision then what we need going forward,” Jones said.
“There will be some sort of Rugby Australia review in November so at the end of that will be the opportunity to start moving forward.
“I’ve signed a contract and I will do the review and then it’s up to others to decide but I stand by the fact that I take full responsibility.
“I feel like I’ve given the team the opportunity to get better and, as I’ve repeatedly said, the results don’t show that but I think we are.”
Winning certainly would have helped infuriated Australian rugby fans accept Jones’s blinkered pursuit of youth, ruthlessly leaving out long-time skipper Michael Hooper and veteran playmaker Quade Cooper from the World Cup.
While some changes were injury-enforced, he has used six captains for the year, leaving the team bereft of proper leadership.
He also recruited a rag-bag of assistant coaches, with two from the NRL and two from the AFL among the bulging brigade in France.
Further upsetting even the staunchest of gold supporters, Jones was forced to deny he had interviewed for the Japan coaching vacancy just days out from the tournament opener.
While he has given his word to Rugby Australia that he wasn’t pursuing the role, that story is still set to play out post-World Cup.
Call it arrogance or an unwavering belief in his bold plan, Jones insisted he had no regrets about his approach to the tournament.
“I don’t sit there thinking ‘s***, I wish I would have done that’,” he said.
“I am not comfortable with the results, but I am comfortable with the way we’ve gone about this campaign, if that makes sense.
“When I came in, I assessed the playing pool and said we needed to make a change and it was high risk.
“This team is going to be a good team. We’re not the finished product yet but if you look at the players … there’s eight or 10 players that have the potential to be really good Test players.
“Then you add in a few experienced players like Will (Skelton), Richie Arnold, a couple of hard guys like (Samu) Kerevi and you get those guys back to their best.
“With that group of people, that’s a team that can do really well.”
Regardless of the outcome of the review, Jones, who is on a five-year contract, is likely to keep his job given Rugby Australia’s precarious financial position.
While bitterly disappointed with what unfolded in France, RA chairman Hamish McLennan says they are playing the long-game, with Jones’s overhaul set to yield results ahead of the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and 2027 World Cup in Australia.
Aged 63 and independently wealthy, Jones could have retired when he was sacked as England coach last December or waited for the job in Japan, where he remains highly regarded.
“I love coaching and I love the challenge,” he replied when asked about his motivation.
“And that’s the reason I came back to Australia because I wanted to make a difference and I apologise I haven’t made a difference.
“I was disappointed with how the Wallabies were going and I wanted to come back and make a change.
“I think I’ve started that process and where it goes, I don’t know, because I’m not in control of that.
“But I started that process and I think we’ve got a great bunch of young players here ready to take it on.”