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Come home Secret Agent Eddie, your mission is accomplished

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Roar Rookie
9th December, 2022
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In 2015 a disturbing trend was identified by the great Southern Hemisphere rugby powers: the English were finally producing the standard of young player that their massive playing numbers and financial wealth would suggest.

Wins in the World Under 20s were recorded in 2013 and 2014, while England were runners-up in 2011 and 2015.

Not only that, England head coach Stuart Lancaster and his staff (which included celebrated The Roar writer and analyst Nicholas Bishop) began to base their team on the talent packed 2011 U20 squad, with a view to a serious tilt at the 2019 World Cup.

The gloating that would arise from the Poms winning another World Cup was unconscionable for the assembled blazers. Something needed to be done.

The cunning plan

It was decided that a mole was needed to win the England head coach job and scupper their terrifying plans. Todd Blackadder was briefly considered but they realised that anyone would see through that one. Although it turned out that Bath didn’t.

The blazers concluded that the mole needed to be Australian. The English are renowned for meekly submitting to Aussies, you just need watch The Ashes to know that. More pertinently, the blazers had seen the number of England and GB sporting teams with Aussie coaches. League, cricket, cycling, athletics and swimming to name a few. Everything except soccer really, that would be silly.

Edward Jones was recruited as the perfect double agent. He was never going to be needed in Australia again after the Reds debacle and he was full of the brazen fast-talking nonsense that the Poms lap up. He would easily be able to get them to believe that he was a strategic genius with a stunning masterplan.

England coach Eddie Jones arrives for an England squad training session at Coogee Oval on July 12, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Evans – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Phase one: Destroying the incumbent

The first challenge was to get Lancaster the sack: difficult because he was a genuinely nice guy who was rightly promoting youth and still had a reasonable record in the Six Nations. Agent Hansen did a brilliant job with five wins in a row and Rugby Australia pulled off a masterstroke by introducing the Giteau Rule to allow the wee maestro and his mates to totally run rings around the poor Poms at the 2015 World Cup.

It was Agent Gatland who really twisted the knife though, with the use of a half back on the wing to inspire the winning Welsh try.

“Not getting out of the pool at your own World Cup” was the fatal refrain. This had the bonus of ensuring that any achievement from Eddie would be seen as a masterful improvement rather than partly the natural result of a more seasoned coach working with players who now had a World Cup locked away in their experience bag.

Phase two: Baiting the hook

With Lancaster cruelly dispatched a further concerted effort was needed to help Eddie impress the RFU enough to win the big job. This was going to be difficult after his chequered career and mediocre record with Japan.


South Africa were the real heroes here, gamely playing the laughing stock victim in Brighton. They were to be well rewarded four years later.

Phase three: Men against boys

To begin with it was important to build Eddie’s Rasputin-like reputation. This is where his communication skills kicked in, hinting at his own genius without giving away any details. Nobody else would have been genius enough to understand it anyway.

The talk had to be backed up by exemplary results, at least initially. This was achieved by largely keeping together Lancaster’s team and deploying it against other nations who were chock-full of raw new recruits gaining as much experience as possible before 2019.

Agent Cheika played a key role here, allowing himself to be Eddie’s angry slapstick fall guy, losing 3-0 in Australia and every other time the two teams played. Well done, Cheiks.

Everything was brilliantly carried out. Eddie had built up a stratospheric win percentage that was to make him bulletproof when results inevitably declined. “He deserves the chance, highest England winning percentage” etc etc. Meanwhile, he delayed the introduction of his own new players, meaning that they had no chance in the first annus horribilis (five consecutive defeats in 2018) and two years’ less experience in 2019.


Phase four: Becoming undroppable

So far, so good. The odds were now stacked against England in 2019. But that England academy system was still churning out the prospects – the U20 record was extended to six finals in a row from 2013-18 with three wins. A World Cup win in 2023 was now a genuine threat and the Southern Hemisphere unions could not take the risk of England appointing a loyal coach in 2020.

The task therefore was to make Eddie unsackable, obviously without actually winning the tournament. Cheika played his normal role but this time it was up to New Zealand to play the real sops to allow Eddie to boast of England’s greatest-ever victory. I mean, you don’t seriously think that anyone thought it a good idea to drop Sam Cane?

Sam Cane of New Zealand looks on during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Ireland at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 09, 2022 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Sam Cane of New Zealand (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

That only left South Africa to be given their reward for 2015 in the final. It was only fair after the All Blacks had won the last two. Once again, surely you don’t believe that Eddie thought it a good idea to play a non scrummaging loosehead and a non tackling first five against the playground bullies?

Phase five: Men against boys again

2020 saw a repeat of the genius tactic of playing men against boys. That Autumn Nations Cup was brilliant for the winning percentage, especially when France fielded their C-team in the final.


This second cycle was Eddie at his finest, not properly embedding his new players (using Farrell at 12 to nobble generational talent Marcus Smith was a masterstroke) and grinding down even his younger 2019 veterans like the world-class Itoje. Non-passing halfback Ben Youngs continued to be selected ahead of the prodigiously talented Raffi Quirke. Talent pool duly neutered.

Forcing out John Mitchell by ordering him to work on his day off and not watch his son play at Lord’s was inspired, especially when he replaced him with a failed Brisbane Broncos league coach. The coaching in the camp was allegedly abysmal, the treatment of some players and coaches allegedly abominable, and morale was allegedly shot. Fantastic work.

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Then we had the full on fast talk after every dismal defeat, claiming that everything was under control and there was a secret masterplan prepared for the World Cup. It worked a treat, splitting the English rugby public between those who thought that the genius knew exactly how to turn things around and those who had read The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In retrospect, though, Eddie had overplayed his hand and the Pennyhill penny dropped even for the RFU old farts. But by then it was far too late.

Come in, Agent Eddie: mission accomplished!