Rugby Australia’s lawyers have spent much of the year focussed on the Firing Folau File, but now it’s time they turn their attention to Eddie’s Emancipation.
Eddie Jones should be the man to replace Michael Cheika as the next coach of the Wallabies.
No New Zealanders. No punts on provincial coaches, as successful as they might be. No to Dave Rennie. No to Jamie Joseph. No to Vern Cotter.
Bring Back Eddie.
An Australian. A proven performer with a phenomenal record at Test level.
He coached the Wallabies to the World Cup final against England in 2003 before losing in extra-time. He then got a gig as an assistant coach with South Africa in 2007 when the Springboks won the trophy.
He coached Japan to three pool-round victories in 2015, including the Brighton miracle win over the Boks.
And he’s just steered England all the way to last weekend’s World Cup final in Yokohama.
That’s a seriously solid record; success at the World Cup as a coach with four Test teams.
The problem is he’s got two more years to run on his contract with the RFU.
Rugby Australia were reportedly told that Eddie’s contract with England is “watertight” through to 2021. But as they say in the classics, contracts are barely worth the paper they are printed on.
There’s always wriggle room. And exit room. Forget Brexit – Wallabies fans want Eddxit.
Stuart Barnes alluded to a story about Jones after England stunned the All Blacks in the semi-final a few weeks ago.
He pointed out that after finishing his stint with Japan in 2015 and signing with South African Super Rugby side the Stormers for 2016, he was asked about potentially coaching England.
His response was something like: “Why would I give up a view of Table Mountain every day to go to England?”
Just a few months later, he was coaching England.
It’s believed the RFU pays him £1 million a year, which equates to about $A1.88m.
Rugby Australia need to start negotiating with the RFU. If Eddie is keen to return to Australia, maybe he can start by explaining to the RFU that he’s taken England as far as he thinks he can. They might share the same view.
RA need to make a prudent investment by getting Jones back. Rugby union in Australia is struggling at many levels and interest levels are waning in several areas.
It’s well known that a winning Wallabies side is the main way to raise the game’s fortunes in Australia. Pride and prestige need to be instilled. Eddie needs to be installed.
It’s the time to get Jones back too, given he turns 60 in January. Offer him four years until the next World Cup in France in 2023.
Perhaps there’s a bit of doubt that Jones would want to take a punt by coaching a side that has lost a large number of top-quality Test players following the just-completed World Cup in Japan.
Samu Kerevi is gone, David Pocock is unlikely to play again, Will Genia, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley, Christian Lealiifano, Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman are all out the door.
Could Eddie get the best out of the likes of James O’Connor, Matt Toomua, Jordan Petaia, Jordan Uelese, Isi Naisarani, Izack Rodda, Jack Dempsey and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto? There’s not the same depth of class as the current England squad.
RA might not feel like they have the big bucks to pay the RFU for Jones’s release, as well as paying his subsequent hefty salary, given that they’ve got the Israel Folau legal case hanging over them.
If they lose that unfair dismissal case, the compensation payout Folau is seeking is around the $10 million mark.
But they need to do everything they can to try to get Eddie Jones back to Australia to coach the Wallabies.
Then we can talk about his support team.
Scott Wisemantel? Matt Taylor? Anyone for Jake White?