Eddie Jones holds the key to next year’s Rugby World Cup

David Lord Columnist

33 Have your say

    Since Eddie Jones took over as England coach in early 2016, the men in white have won 23 of their 24 internationals as well as capturing back-to-back Six-Nations titles.

    Their only loss was to Ireland 13-9 last year, but England’s 95.8 per cent win rate makes Jones the most successful coach in world rugby.

    The missing link are the All Blacks.

    England hasn’t played them since November 2014 at Twickenham, when they lost 24-21.

    But England has stitched up the rest of the world’s top ten under Jones, with the exception of Ireland, where the count is 1-1.

    Against the Wallabies it’s 5-0, against the Pumas 3-0, Wales 2-0, Scotland 2-0, France 2-0, the Boks 1-0, and Fiji 1-0.

    Since the 2015 Rugby World Cup the world’s top ten performances have been:

    1 – England under the 58-year-old Jones – played 24, won 23 – 95.8 per cent.
    2 – All Blacks – Steve Hansen (58) – 28, 25 – 89.28.
    3 – Ireland – Joe Schmidt (52) – 24, 16 – 66.67.
    4 – Scotland – Vern Cotter (56) – 22, 13 – 59.09.
    5 – Fiji – John McKee (56) – 13, 7 – 53.85.
    6 – Wales – Warren Gatland (54) – 25, 13 – 52.00
    7 – Wallabies – Michael Cheika (50) – 29, 15 – 51.72.
    8 – Boks – Allister Coetzee (54) – 25, 11 – 44.00.
    9 – France – Guy Noves (64) – 22, 7 – 31.81.
    10 – Pumas – Daniel Hourcade (59) – 25, 5 – 20.00.

    Marland Yarde England Rugby Union 2016

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    But those stats don’t marry with the world rankings:

    1 – All Blacks – 93.99.
    2 – England – 90.87.
    3 – Ireland – 86.86.
    4 – Wallabies – 85.49.
    5 – Boks – 83.81.
    6 – Wales – 83.43.
    7 – Scotland – 82.79.
    8 – Pumas – 78.22.
    9 – Fiji – 77.93.
    10 – France – 77.62.

    Those rankings won’t vary too much by September next year when the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, with the possible exception of France.

    The groups for the tournament tell an interesting tale.

    Pool A
    Europe 1
    Play-off winner

    Pool B
    All Blacks
    Africa 1
    Repercharge winner

    Pool C

    Pool D

    Pool C is the kiss of death, and the draw favours the Wallabies in the bottom half, with both the All Blacks and England in the top half.

    With that in mind, this is what the quarter-finals will end up looking like:

    Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D
    England v Wales

    Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A
    All Blacks v Scotland

    Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C
    Wallabies v France

    Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B
    Ireland v Boks.

    The semi-finals:

    Winner QF1 v winner QF2
    England v All Blacks.

    Winner QF3 v winner QF4
    Wallabies v Ireland.

    And then a repeat of the 2015 decider in the final:

    All Blacks v Wallabies.

    Beauden Barrett New Zealand Rugby Union Championships Bledisloe Cup 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    Having made the prediction of an All Blacks-Wallabies decider, the two semis could so easily go the other way for an England-Ireland final.

    The key will be Eddie Jones.

    Jones has made a career out of raising the performance bar of his troops starting with the Brumbies’ first Super Rugby title, taking the Wallabies to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, assistant coaching the Boks to win the 2007 tournament, and coaching Japan to the greatest boilover in history by beating the Boks in the opening round of the 2015 edition with a try on the final hooter.

    On his current watch, he has instilled enormous belief in his England squad that was gutted when they missed the 2015 Rugby World Cup play-offs as host.

    He has also lifted the individual skills to the point where it would be fair to say they believe they are invincible.

    That belief won’t be genuinely tested until their first clash with the All Blacks, which is scheduled for November 10 this year.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • Roar Guru

      February 7th 2018 @ 9:39am
      Carlos the Argie said | February 7th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      “Raising the performance bar”? Am I missing something? I thought he was chased out of Oz and, if I recall correctly, he was responsible for the destruction of the Wallaby scrum. A damage that would take years to (almost) correct.

      Give him time, he will bury the English too.

      • February 7th 2018 @ 3:20pm
        aussikiwi said | February 7th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        The important point, Carlos, is that EJ seems to have learnt and developed a lot since coaching the WBs, added to which he has a tremendous amount of talent in his squad, with excellent young players coming through.

        England hot favourites, ABs underdogs, for 2019??

        • February 7th 2018 @ 3:38pm
          Cuw said | February 7th 2018 @ 3:38pm | ! Report


          if any team is holding all the cards , its England.

          IMO they are favorites , simply coz they dont have to worry about depth.

          NZ the world champs are losing many guys to European rugger . people will say there are enuf young guys tot take over.

          the problem is getting guys into the squad and giving them experience. Because England have the Saxons and also used the 3rd and 4th tier players in certain matches , they have lot of depth and some level of experience.

          also England does not have the problem of squad players leaving – like Sopoaga , Seta , Moala , TKB …. and also fringe players leaving like Ngatai , Shields …

          players leaving in a 4 year cycle is manageable , but when they start leaving each and every year it means disrupting the squad and then integrating new players into the systems.

          in this scenario NZ Africa and to a certain extent Argentina and Australia have suffered since 2015 world cup.

          • February 7th 2018 @ 6:21pm
            Mmmmm..k said | February 7th 2018 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

            NZ don’t have to worry about depth at all.
            They have, by far, the most depth in world rugby.

            Fullback/Wing: Dagg, Barrett, Smith, Havili, Savea, Ioane, NMS, Naholo.
            Centres: Goodhue, SBW, Crotty, Laumape, ALB.
            Flyhalf: Barrett, Mounga, McKenzie.
            Halfback: Perenara, Smith, Weber, Pulu.
            No.8/6: Read, Squire, Ioane, Fafita, Kaino, Dixon.
            Openside: Todd, Cane, Savea.
            Lock: Rettalick, Bird, Romano, Whitelock, Barrett, Tuipulotu.
            Props: Franks, Hames, Laulala, Moody, Tuungafasi, Crockett.
            Hooker: Taylor, Coles, Harris, Aumua.

            Seriously, you’re playing the lack of depth card?
            No team come close to the depth NZ has and will have. Not even close.

          • Roar Guru

            February 7th 2018 @ 6:32pm
            Machpants said | February 7th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

            Yeah the dirt trackers, who give valuable experience, backup and challenge to the 15/23 moving on at a pace that is not sustainable here – England are the favourites ATM

            • February 7th 2018 @ 7:41pm
              FunBus said | February 7th 2018 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

              Whether NZ have any ‘depth’ issues in the long-term depends on how market forces develop. Personally, I doubt they will have major issues, but we’ll have to wait and see. Apart from fly-half if they’re unlucky with injuries, they’ll have no issues for RWC 2019.
              The ABs are the best side in the world currently, and I think they’ll kick on again in 2018. They’re also favourites for 2019, and England themselves continually acknowledge both facts virtually on a weekly basis.

              They lost Faumiana but replaced him with two THs (acquired from the islands). Lost Piutau, but replaced him with Naholo (acquired from the islands). They also lost Luatua, but replaced him with Fifita (acquired from the islands). Admittedly, they’ve lost Seta (previously acquired from the islands) but they have huge depth in the back three. Only Cruden, and to a lesser extent Sapaoga, are significant losses.

              • Roar Guru

                February 7th 2018 @ 8:12pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | February 7th 2018 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

                My dear FunBus, surely you had our common favorite Kiwi in mind when you wrote this:

                They lost Faumiana but replaced him with two THs (acquired from the islands). Lost Piutau, but replaced him with Naholo (acquired from the islands). They also lost Luatua, but replaced him with Fifita (acquired from the islands). Admittedly, they’ve lost Seta (previously acquired from the islands) but they have huge depth in the back three. Only Cruden, and to a lesser extent Sapaoga, are significant losses.


              • February 7th 2018 @ 8:24pm
                Fionn said | February 7th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

                That could refer to two certain Kiwis.

            • February 7th 2018 @ 8:46pm
              FunBus said | February 7th 2018 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

              NVFS and Fionn. I’m afraid I haven’t got the faintest idea what you’re talking about.?

              • February 7th 2018 @ 9:06pm
                Mmmmm..k said | February 7th 2018 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

                I think they were talking about Speight, Koroibete, Naivalu, Tupou, Naiyaravoro, Kuridrani, Timani, Crowded House, Dragon and Nabuli.

    • Columnist

      February 7th 2018 @ 11:00am
      David Lord said | February 7th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      Is that so Carlos. Since Eddie Jones stopped coaching the Wallabies there have been four Wallaby coaches – John Connolly (25), Robbie Deans (74), Ewen McKenzie (22), and Michael Cheika (45).

      That’s 166 internationals, and since Jones took over England he’s played five Tests against the Wallabies.

      Scoreline – 5-zip.

      That makes your final statement look pretty stupid Carlos.

      • February 7th 2018 @ 11:22am
        Fionn said | February 7th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        It’s true that Jones did extremely well with the Brumbies and did well with the Wallabies at the start of his tenure.

        It’s also true that Jones was removed after a horrid final season with the Wallabies.

        It’s also true that Jones was the one under whose coaching the Wallabies’ scrum disintegrated and took a decade to recover.

        It’s also true that Jones struggled at the Reds afterwards.

        It’s also true that he did well with the Boks, did very well with Japan and is currently doing fantastically with England.

        It’s very possible that you’re correct, David, but it is also possible that Carlos will be correct.

        • February 7th 2018 @ 11:38am
          Old Bugger said | February 7th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

          Well said Fionn because its also possible, that another team wins 6N and prevents, a 3-peat……I think Carlos, would enjoy calling an undertaker then…..??

        • February 7th 2018 @ 1:22pm
          Perthstayer said | February 7th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          Fionn – Chicken egg horse cart. Are teams trying to be good enough to defeat England or are they relying on EJ to slip up?

          We cannot move on unless we learn from our past. Only time will tell if EJ has achieved that, not hope.

          • February 7th 2018 @ 1:40pm
            Fionn said | February 7th 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            It looks to me like Wales, Scotland and especially Ireland are all trying to be good enough to defeat England.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 7th 2018 @ 1:44pm
          Don said | February 7th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

          When we lost Ben Darwin EJ opted for Al Baxter and Matt Dunning. He spoke at the time of his desire for props who had more mobility.

          Until he had such success with England I had EJ categorised as an ideal assistant / consultant but not a top tier international coach. Good to see how he has shown otherwise.

        • Roar Guru

          February 8th 2018 @ 3:30am
          Carlos the Argie said | February 8th 2018 @ 3:30am | ! Report

          Thank you, Fionn. That was my point. Thanks for translating into proper English.

      • February 7th 2018 @ 6:21pm
        Jacko said | February 7th 2018 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

        So what has the first 3 coaches on that list got to do with Eddie??? He , as you say didnt coach Aus in this time but he didnt coach England in that time either so where is your point?

        Also Eddie Jones history says he loses teams after 2 years and you know that David as you have said it before…..That does not mean he will lose the England team but it has definately happened to him everywhere he coaches for any lenth of time

        • February 7th 2018 @ 7:51pm
          FunBus said | February 7th 2018 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

          There are some differences this time. First, he’s now one of the most experienced coaches in the world and seems much more reflective than in the past – certainly when he was in Oz. Second, RWC 2019 is an absolute focus. 3. There’s a clear date for him to leave, rather than it being open-ended.

          Whether you like him or hate his guts as a player, you’d acknowledge that he’s improved England and your eyes are on 2019.

      • February 7th 2018 @ 10:14pm
        mzillikazi said | February 7th 2018 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

        “That makes your final statement look pretty stupid Carlos.”

        I will remember that comment !! And is it necessary to descend to such a level ?

        • Roar Guru

          February 8th 2018 @ 3:32am
          Carlos the Argie said | February 8th 2018 @ 3:32am | ! Report

          He must come from a different breed. Don’t worry. I have said before that I believe Lord is becoming senile. Too bad.

      • February 8th 2018 @ 5:54am
        Kane said | February 8th 2018 @ 5:54am | ! Report

        Maybe David, just maybe, it’s more of a reflection on how poor Cheika is?

    • February 7th 2018 @ 11:37am
      bigbaz said | February 7th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

      I think Jones made the assessment, towards the end of his Aussie term that the set plays of scrum and lineout were losing their importance and started us down the League path, much to the detriment of Aussie rugby. He learnt his lesson, not sure we have.

    • February 7th 2018 @ 2:38pm
      Suzy Poison said | February 7th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

      I have a mate who is an ex Professional who spent a good for years playing in Japan. He played against Eddie’s team, Suntory a few times and had a few mates who were coached by Eddie. I asked him if he thought England would win the World Cup in 2019, based Eddie massive success with England. His answer shocked me, it was a blunt: “No!”

      When I asked him the reason, he gave me an insight in how Eddie operates. After every Saturday night game, Eddie would demand that his assistants, work thru the night, cutting a video of every single player’s involvement in the game. Obviously including the reserves. Eddie demanded that he had the tape in his hands by 7am on Sunday morning, when he would sit down and watch each player and write copious notes. For example, my friend’s mate was a jumping second rower. When he was beaten to the ball in a lineout by two inches by an opposition player’s hand on one occasion, Jones told him he simply wasn’t fit enough. And this player then had to do extra training for a few months.

      I replied well that’s great as a meticulous planner, what’s the issue? My mate’s response. Control freaks don’t inspire people. That style of management is unsustainable at motivating professional players. It’s how you treat other human beings. For instance, perhaps he could have given the assistants Saturday night off. There needs to some give and take and they needed to treated as adults. His prediction. Eddie’s team will be burned out way before the World Cup in Japan, and we will start to see a slow decline of England’s results starting this year. That style of coaching is unsustainable.

      • Roar Guru

        February 7th 2018 @ 3:52pm
        Rugby Fan said | February 7th 2018 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

        I share some of the concerns too.

        I didn’t want Jones appointed because he want players to do exactly what he wants. With Australia and Japan, his selection pool was limited, so he had to work with the players. I feared with England that Jones would rapidly cycle through greater playing stocks, potentially ending the careers of some promising talent in the same way Andy Robinson mishandled Mathew Tait.

        Also, I’m not sure Jones has a great record of developing young players, while he also has too much of a fondness for players with league backgrounds.

        As it turns out, Jones has been better for England than I imagined. While he likes players with experience of rugby in the south, he hasn’t let that completely dominate his decisions. An early interest in Mitch Lees was shelved, while Teimana Harrison dropped out of favour. Still, Piers Francis is still in the mix, which is a mystery, and Denny Solomona is higher up the pecking order than his all round game deserves.Brad Shields could also feature at some point, which would be disappointing.

        Burn out is a real risk. A lot of the England players who featured in the 2015 World Cup build-up really needed a break in summer 2016. Instead, they got a hard three test series in Australia, Haskell has never really recovered from that year. Jones’s England training session are hard affairs, causing a number of injuries. Flanker Sam Jones may never play again, after Eddie arranged a contact judo session which went wrong.

        None of England’s Lions players have been given a decent break. That’s not down to Jones alone, but his unwillingness to give anyone downtime plays a part. Given that this year sees a three match tour to South Africa, it’s hard to see him resting people. In short, most England players will reach the next World Cup never having had a proper pre-season under Jones. The only players having time away from the game are those who get injured.or suspended.

        This does seem to be a crucial year. There are a few people predicting England will hit a wall. England won all but one game last season but there wasn’t much sign of broader development. I’m concerned we don’t seem to know our best scrummaging unit but things went better against Italy, so we’ll see if that progress comes to anything.

        Jones has kept his squad focused because the results are coming, and players can forgive a lot when they are winning.

        • Columnist

          February 7th 2018 @ 5:14pm
          David Lord said | February 7th 2018 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

          Suzy Poison and Rugby Fan, you’d better wise-up Kiwi Warren Gatland with your Eddie Jones reservations,

          Gatland has coached Wales since 2007, and coached the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017.

          “I’ve learned a lot watching Eddie coach, he’ll make an excellent British and Irish Lions coach,” said Gatland yesterday,

          “You can’t argue with the ambitions Eddie’s got, and you can’t argue with his record over the last couple of years,” he added.

          Eddie and Warren go head-to-head at the weekend in the Six Nations.

          • February 7th 2018 @ 6:27pm
            Jacko said | February 7th 2018 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

            Seriously David? You believe that Gatland would say that behind closed doors ??? He was talking to reporters when he said those things and its called Pi$$ing in your pocket

          • Roar Guru

            February 7th 2018 @ 7:03pm
            Rugby Fan said | February 7th 2018 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

            Jones has already beaten my low expectations, so I’ll happily admit I misjudged him. If any of my reservations are actually valid, then we’ll get some sign of that this year, for much the same reasons mentioned in Suzy Poison’s account.

            As it turns out, Jones has been a much more loyal selector than I expected. Certainly, it’s easier to do when the team is winning, and injuries aren’t taking out a lot of first choice starters, as happened to both Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster. Still, that loyalty is being reciprocated, which means the squad is still happy to run through walls for Jones.

            Jones has also been better than I expected with young talent. George Ford has been around for a few years now but he’s still two years younger than Beauden Barrett. When Jones mentioned Marcus Smith (18) for the first time, few in England knew anything about him. There are other young players I’d like to see involved but Jones has already got Zach Mercer,(20) and Nick Isiekwe (19) in the squad and would have involved the Curry twins (19) but for injury. On top of that, Simmonds (23) and Underhill (21) are in the mix at the earliest opportunity.

            • Roar Guru

              February 8th 2018 @ 5:57am
              Carlos the Argie said | February 8th 2018 @ 5:57am | ! Report

              There were some recent interviews of English players who in a very politically correct way gave faint praise to EJ. They said he was very “intense” and always kept players unbalanced. It did not come across as the most exciting endorsement.

              Which brings me back to my comment of giving EJ time and he may end up hanging himself again.

              Some coaches are very good in the short term and can “resurrect” bad performing teams. But it is in the long term that they fail. It is the same in business. There are leaders that terrorize their workers and get exceptional performance in the short term but fail miserably eventually.

      • February 7th 2018 @ 5:03pm
        Cuw said | February 7th 2018 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

        on the other hand , it may work for a 4-year cycle. 🙂

        the learning curve effect take a little time to get to the peak and then it tends to fall off.

        perhaps the reason he left Japan .

        it will be interesting to see what happens at the world cup and after – coz now he has a contract till 2021.

        could it end up like Robbie deans and Australia?

      • February 7th 2018 @ 6:32pm
        Mmmmm..k said | February 7th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

        Well if somebody who once new somebody thinks that Eddie won’t win then I’m convinced ?

    • February 7th 2018 @ 7:16pm
      RugbyFan in WA said | February 7th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

      The biggest challenge for England and Eddie Jones is the World Cup Draw their two toughest pool games are at the end of the draw. To win the WC they essentially need to beat Argentina, France, Wales, NZ and either Ireland, SA or Australia. That is 5 tough games in 5 consecutive weeks which has never happened in the history of WC’s. Don’t underestimate SA at the next WC with a new Coach. With 18 months he could do a ‘Chieka” and get them to the final against either a depleted England team or NZ.

      • February 7th 2018 @ 7:46pm
        FunBus said | February 7th 2018 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

        As Rugby Fan mentions above, apart from the pool the biggest challenge is getting England to the starting line in one piece. They need to get through this season and the tour of SA, before, hopefully, a less mad period in which they can have a proper pre-season and manage their key players.

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