Win or lose, seems Eddie will be on his way
NEWS: Eddie Jones has been interviewed to take over as Japan coach, reports said Sunday, casting doubt over his future in the middle of Australia’s stuttering World Cup campaign.
The former England boss was hailed as Australia’s saviour when he was appointed coach in January on a five-year deal to replace New Zealander Dave Rennie.
But the combative 63-year-old has faced mounting criticism at home with the Wallabies losing six of their seven matches since.
They face a do-or-die clash against Wales in France later Sunday to avoid a first-ever elimination from the group stages of a World Cup.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Jones has applied for the head coaching role with Japan, a post he held previously.
Citing sources close to negotiations, it said the Australian had an online Zoom interview with Japan officials on August 25 to replace Jamie Joseph.
He was in Paris at the time with the Wallabies, two days out from a World Cup warm-up match against hosts France.
Last week, Jones dismissed conjecture from Japanese media as “gossip”.
Rugby Australia had no immediate comment, but in a statement to the Herald, chief executive Phil Waugh played down the prospect of Jones leaving.
“I take people at their word and Eddie’s said there’s nothing in it,” he said.
“So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of the story and everyone’s focus is on this weekend’s crucial game against Wales.”
Jones coached Japan from 2012 to 2015 and The Australian newspaper reported Sunday that he has “an open-ended offer to return”.
The Japan Rugby Football Union had no immediate comment.
AAP reports that Rugby Australia is standing by its man after reports Eddie Jones has been interviewed to take over the Japan coaching role after the Rugby World Cup in France.
Jones is reportedly considering leaving the the post regardless of the team’s success or failure in France.
He interviewed with Japan rugby officials just days before the World Cup started in Paris earlier this month, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
RA chairman Hamish McLennan, who brought Jones in to replace Dave Rennie in January, and chief executive Phil Waugh were asked about Jones’s position.
Waugh issued a statement which McLennan backed, although declined to comment further, when contacted by AAP.
“I take people at their word and Eddie’s said there’s nothing in it. So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of the story and everyone’s focus is on this weekend’s crucial game against Wales,” Waugh said.
The Wallabies face Wales in Lyon on Sunday night (Monday 5am AEST) needing victory to have any chance of reaching the quarter-finals.
The Australians have never been eliminated at the pool stage since the first tournament held in 1987.
In the lead-up to the Wales match Jones, who was sacked by England late last year, said his future could hinge on the result.
He steered Australia to the World Cup final in 2003 in his first stint with the Wallabies but his record is one win from seven Tests since replacing Rennie in January.
“At the end of the World Cup there’ll be a review and given the results we’ve had then maybe Australian Rugby doesn’t want to keep me,” Jones said.
“That’s the reality of the job I live in and I understand that.”
Jones was repeatedly pressed by a journalist on his commitment to coaching the Wallabies beyond the tournament but refused to answer, saying he was only focused on the match against the unbeaten Welsh.
“I’m just worried about coaching against Wales this week,” was his response.
Jones last week denied being in the mix for the Japanese vacancy, dismissing a report from Japanese media that named him as a possible candidate as “bulls*** and gossip”.
He previously coached the Brave Blossoms for three years, departing after their famous victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
Wallabies assistant coach Jason Ryles said on the eve of the crunch clash he would be surprised if Jones walked away from the role.
“I see his vision beyond the World Cup and it’s one of those things where he hasn’t said anything to us, obviously,” Ryles said.
“Basically, watch this space. There is a big job ahead for the next four years with the Wallabies, which he’s started already. He’s got some pretty good foundations down.
“To walk away from that would be a bit of a surprise because there is a lot of green shoots for the future. I’m not too sure what he’ll do to be honest with you. It’s good to have options by the sounds of it.”