The Roar
The Roar


Yes Eddie, we really are sitting here thinking 's--t, what's this bloke on about?'

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25th September, 2023
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What we know for sure is that Eddie Jones has just led the Wallabies to the brink of their first exit from a World Cup pool stage in our history. What we may never know is what on earth he was really thinking.

Jones’ job seems completely untenable today. Given a chance to confirm he would be coach in 2024, he dodged the question.

Jones has said so much since returning to the job to replace Dave Rennie in January. But 15 words are enough to encapsulate the weirdest nine month reign in Australian sports history.

“Whilst it looks at the moment like a shambles, I can guarantee you it’s not.”

Whatever guarantees Eddie’s selling, I’m not buying.

Sure, it’s been a shit show, or a spectacle de merde as they might say around here, but it has been some ride, and if it ends today or tomorrow, or the day after Australia tries to salvage some pride against Portugal (!) then we’ll always look back on this period as one of great promise and zero delivery.

Rugby Australia chiefs were elated to lure Jones back in January to replace Dave Rennie. Rennie apparently was too dull, too much into culture and Kumbaya and narrow losses.

Jones has achieved one KPI – putting the game back in the headlines. But at what cost?


He backed youth over experience and as the losses mounted he made excuses for the green team. It was only four days ago that he said World Cup winning teams took six years to build and that he jettisoned proven performers because he didn’t think they were “the future of Australian rugby.”

Then on match eve a report in the Sydney Morning Herald said Jones had interviewed for the Japan job a few weeks before pulling out for France. For a man who always has plenty to say, his abject fumbling when asked about this after the Wales debacle spoke volumes.

Jones has lost six out of seven games, and brought a furious reaction from people who can’t cop him in the press. Hell, even those who like and admire him – such as Drew Mitchell – are driven to f-bombs in exasperation at his increasingly unhinged selections and outbursts.

There’s something very stinky about sacking veteran players and going all in on the future – then planning to spend that future somewhere else.

“We need to create a new group of players that have higher standards of training, higher standards of behaviour, higher standards of expectation. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Jones said this week. That makes Michael Hooper’s gracious comments post the Wales game seem even more saintly.

“I don’t think waiting is the right answer. You need to start building a team,” Jones said, while reportedly hedging his bets.


“To win a World Cup I reckon it takes six years. All of what I look at, most teams are made in six years. Very rarely it’s done before that. It can be, but you look at most teams and they’re groups of young players who start together, might win under-20s together, have one or two years where they have a tough time, then they mature into a good team.”

Jones came back into Australian rugby like a whirling dervish. He was tagged ‘Eddie everywhere’. He had 15 lunches a day and 10 dinners – and he spent them spinning yarns and seducing suits and being the anti-Dave Rennie. Cautious, considerate and curt Dave Rennie, with his Kiwi disdain for the grandiose statement.

Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia, looks on at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia, looks on at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Eddie sold the Australian rugby public a dream. He would win the World Cup. With kids. Playing the rugby everyone wants to watch. Did he truly believe or is he just a snake oil salesman?

“I don’t try to make myself out as a saint, but sometimes you’ve got to take some hard decisions to get the results further down the track,” he said last week.

“I’ve got no doubt we’ll win on Sunday. The way the team’s prepared. The way they’ve come together. I’ve got no doubt we’ll win on Sunday.

“But if we don’t, then sometimes you’ve got to do the work that allows you to be successful further down the track.


“I don’t know of any team that you can come in and blow magic over. You’ve got to go through a process and you’ve got to find out what’s wrong with the team. And then you’ve got to try to address those problems.

“I sit here very comfortably feeling like I’m doing the job I should be doing.”

Sure, there have been some laughs. “Fire away boys!” he said at Parramatta Stadium this year after a loss, making sure every question was asked. It seemed a universe away from Sunday’s little dummy spit: “I really take umbrage at the questioning that people are questioning my commitment to coaching Australia. I really take umbrage at it.

“I’ve been working nonstop since I’ve come in. And I apologise for the results. I keep saying that. But questioning my commitment to the job I think is a bit red hot.”

I sat alongside some UK press types this week who were having a good old chuckle over Eddie and how the baton of bullshit had been passed from them to us.

“Bet you miss him?” I asked, knowing the answer already.

“I’m a bit used to it mate, and after that I probably deserve more,” said Jones of the booing that’s greeted him at every ground in France. “They should probably be throwing baguettes or croissants at me. It’s not good enough. I deserve whatever I get.”


Croissants here are too tasty to waste, so on Sunday the fans threw chants of “Eddie’s a wanker” his way.

Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia walks through the tunnel at half-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Australia at Parc Olympique on September 24, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia walks through the tunnel at half-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Australia at Parc Olympique on September 24, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“I made the decision to go for a younger team and if that’s the wrong decision then I will be held accountable for that. But I think Australian rugby needs to move on to a younger team. I am prepared to go through some pain to leave Australia with a team capable of doing really well in a World Cup,” Jones said.

But is it really he who will be copping this pain? Or will he cut and run and leave that to you and me?

But don’t you dare be negative. Don’t you dare express concern at Australia’s plunging status in the game we once ruled. 10th in the rankings?

“Yeah, fantastic mate. None of you guys think we can do any good. So that’s all right. The challenge for us as a group is to show you that we can, and show ourselves that we can. It’s just a great image for Australian rugby to have a young team ready to take on the world,” said Jones in his Sydney Airport performance (shortly after it’s believed he interviewed for the Japan gig).

“I can feel this negativity. I’ve got to wash myself off.”


That’s the thing with losing. It’s negative and breeds negativity. But Jones has no time for that – just delusions.

“The experts have written us off. No one believes we can do it, but we believe. The coaches believe, the players believe and that’s all that matters,” he said after going 0-3 when beaten in Melbourne by the All Blacks.

“Where’s there’s life there’s hope. I’ve coached teams like this before and you can turn it around.

“I saw enough today to know that we can be bloody good team. You’re sitting there thinking shit what’s his bloke talking about? But I’m telling you boys, we can turn it around and be a very good team.

“So for the fans, they got to keep being hopeful. Keep praying, whatever God they’ve got, keep praying to them that we turn it around. We will.”

Eddie doesn’t like to be challenged, or even questioned.

There were plenty who questioned his decision to shaft Australia’s proven flyhalves – never mind Quade and Bernard but a lot of time had been invested in Noah Lolesio as well – and go all in on Carter Gordon, who was jettisoned inside two games at the World Cup.


“Firstly, I don’t think I got it wrong, mate,” Jones said of Gordon’s selection in Melbourne.

“In fact, I’m going to get it right, and the player will get it right.

“To say that as a young No 10 in his first game [as a starter], ‘you’ve got it wrong in selecting him’ is just a load of rubbish mate.

“So anyone who asks that question doesn’t know anything about rugby. If you know anything about rugby you know that No 10s need time in the seat. If you don’t know anything about rugby then don’t talk to me.”

You figure Eddie could take offence at his own shadow.

He blew up at a South African reporter for suggesting that the Wallabies had lost to South Africa’s B team in Jones first game back.


“You don’t have to be a smartarse, mate,” Jones said. “You should have more respect mate. I never said that mate. I said we always want to play the best. Show some respect.”

Laurie Fisher was in his crosshairs for having the temerity to suggest that Jones’ mad scientist coaching lineup was struggling to gel.

“From watching the game, I don’t know that they have great clarity themselves at the moment,” Fisher said on The Roar Rugby Podcast.

“They have a new defensive coach [Brett Hodgson] who’s never coached rugby union, hasn’t played rugby union.

“He’s obviously working on connection and kick chase and first phase. Is he also talking about what is our contest policy between the 15s, what do you do in our own 22? I saw guys having a crack, but I didn’t see a designated policy of how we’re going to get some pressure on their ball.

“Even close to our line, I saw Jed Holloway pull out of a contest. For goodness sake, you’ve just got to go in and make a mess of it. It’s a non-negotiable. So I don’t know if that’s an area that they’ve addressed with any significance yet. So it’s a huge area for potential improvement.”

Jones was not amused.


“Laurie is a member of the Australian A staff so I find those comments inappropriate,” he said.

The weird exchanges never stopped.

He told the Eveing Standard podcast that “I’m only coaching to this World Cup.. I’ve signed, but as I’ve made the mistake before, I’ve stayed too long. So we win the World Cup it will be time to go. If we lose the World Cup it will be time to go.”

That was a joke. Or was it?

The strange selections kept coming too. Suli Vunivalu will go down in history as one of the all time luckiest World Cup tourists.

“Contradiction is a big part of selection,” said Jones of the Melbourne Storm winger. “You’re always trying to find players you feel can be world class. That’s the ultimate task – to find players who can be world class.

“And I’ve seen Vunivalu play for Melbourne Storm. I’ve seen him play in NRL. I’ve seen bits and pieces of his play for Australia A, and bits and pieces of what he’s done for Queensland. There’s a lot of gaps in his game at the moment. But our job as coaches is to help him fill the gaps.


“So if you’ve got a cattle prod at training get it out, it might help him!”

Jones probably believes his heart was in the right place.

“What wins World Cups and the hearts of people are teams that play with spirit,” he said when he was appointed. “We’ve got to win the World Cup. If we win, it changes things for rugby in Australia. There are about six teams that are separated by a cigarette paper. It’s so tight.”

The sad reality is he’s delivered neither a team that will win the World Cup, nor one that plays with spirit.

What we’re left with is so many empty words.