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RWC News: 'Carry a grudge til the day they die' - Jones dismisses Wallabies rejects, Razor 'not allowed' at ABs games

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5th October, 2023
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Wallabies coach Eddie Jones says he remains committed to coaching Australia for the next World Cup cycle but admits Rugby Australia might decide to go a different route.

Jones also denied any contact with Japanese rugby in an interview with the Daily Mail during the Wallabies break this week and had some stinging words for senior players he opted not to pick for the campaign.

The team is hoping for a miracle this weekend – requiring Portugal to beat Fiji by eight or more points to give Australia a path through to the quarterfinals.

There has been intense speculation about Jones’ future, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting he had an interview to coach Japan.

“I have signed a five-year contract,” said Jones.

“Like any job, coaches are in an employer-employee relationship, and we are in a game of winning. Whenever you’re not winning, the coach is vulnerable, so I am vulnerable. Does that cause extra noise? It probably does. There’s been this noise about Japan, but nothing has happened. So that’s just added a bit more noise to it.

“I came into this job with the approach that it was going to be a long-term job, but Rugby Australia could change. If there’s a change in the wind then things can happen, but my commitment was always long-term and there’s no reason why that won’t happen.”

Jones again defended his decision to pick younger players for the tournament – a move that hasn’t delivered results.

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“I decided that we needed to make an abrupt change, because the status quo wasn’t going to be good enough,” said Jones.

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“I decided to look at the next generation coming through. Sometimes, I look back and you do think whether that was the right thing to do or not. But in the end, I do think it was the right thing to do. The advantage with this squad is that it still has five or six years of growth in it.

“That will set Australia up well for the Lions series in 2025 and for the 2027 World Cup.”

He said the discarded players “take it in different ways. That’s always a World Cup issue; when you leave out established players. Some of those players will carry a grudge until the day they die and other players will let it go. It’s not something I can control. It doesn’t bother me.”

Jones also had a sobering assessment of the game in Australia.

“Australia now, in terms of rugby population and rugby significance, is a small country in the world. In the amateur and early professional era, we were a country well ahead of its spot, because we had professionalism in the game, because of close ties with rugby league and Aussie Rules,” he said.

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“Now, we don’t have that advantage, so Australian rugby needs a reset. We are still running off an antiquated system, which was pre-professional. We need to change with the times.”

Jones also reflected on the treatment he’s received in stadia in France, where he’s been fiercely booed.

“I genuinely don’t worry about it. If that’s the way they want to carry on, then that’s fair enough,” said Jones.

“It’s not how I’m treated in the street. I don’t think I’ve had one person come up and jeer me in the street. Whatever people do at the ground… it’s a bit like social media isn’t it? Everyone is brave when they don’t have to show their face.

“Here, the crowds have definitely been different – they’ve had more of a football way about them. But it’s not to the extent that we’re having fights. If it reached the point that fans were fighting then that would be a sign that it’s going too far.”

Razor shut out of ABs games

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Former star Justin Marshall claims the next All Blacks coach Scott Robertson has been shut out of the team’s World Cup games in case he’s too much of a distraction for the players.

Marshall, talking on South African TV, said: “Can I tell you something really interesting, Scott Robertson has been here in France. You would have seen him. He’s been floating around.

“He’s not allowed to be at All Blacks games. They feel he’s too big a distraction to the current players. All of a sudden they might want to chat to him or might want to impress him, so Ian Foster said to him…he’s not being allowed at All Blacks games.”

Robertson was spotted on camera during a Fiji game and NZ radio reports say he is now back at home.

The All Blacks host England and Fiji for tours in 2024.

Robertson will replace Ian Foster at the helm of the All Blacks after the World Cup and there is believed to be a high level of frostiness between the pair over how the succession plan was enacted, with Foster wanting to stay on.

Meanwhile, former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and John Kirwan have backed Foster’s controversial comments on the epic clash between South Africa and Ireland.

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Foster suggested more people would have enjoyed his team’s 96-17 demolition of Italy than the battle between the heavyweights in Paris that ended in a 13-8 win to the Irish.

Barbarians joint head coach Scott Robertson before the Killik Cup match between Barbarians and All Blacks XV at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

England , United Kingdom – 13 November 2022; Barbarians joint head coach Scott Robertson before the Killik Cup match between Barbarians and All Blacks XV at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Kirwan described the Springboks as boring to watch.

“When people are doing a Mexican wave, they’re bored. I was bored during that game because it was stop-start. Now, the game needs to change. It’s an anaerobic game; we need to be an aerobic game,” Kirwan told The Breakdown.

“We need to get our numbers up. I’m pretty sure South Africa don’t want to play like that.

“Do you want your team to play like that? Maul, penalty kick, maul, scrum, slow it down. If that’s how you want to play, I’m cool with that, but I don’t want to see the game like that; otherwise, we will just have Mexican waves four times a game.

“World Rugby need to stop saying, ‘we need to see a game’, they need to make changes.”

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Wilson said the World Cup was dominated by talk about the excellent atmosphere at the tournament, rather than less than thrilling action.

“South Africa play a certain style, England play a certain style of game. Obviously, the Wallabies, the All Blacks [play differently] – France are somewhere in the middle. Ireland like to hold onto the ball,” said Wilson.

“We’ve got variety, but in the end, we’re spending a lot of time talking about the atmosphere in and around the stadium and in the crowd.

“We’re spending more time talking about that rather than what’s happening on the field. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, defences are still winning in the big games.

“Defences are standing out; the set-piece is still the be-all and end-all. When push comes to shove, they (South Africa) went to the front eight (against Tonga) and just kept going.

“That’s how they win games and allows them to dominate in areas, but ultimately, as a fan you’re seeing more kicks, one-pass carries, and that’s a problem.

“I think this is on World Rugby. This is the flow-down effect. It’s the pinnacle of the game; this is the example being set around the world and, if you want people to grow up wanting to play the game, what is it they’re seeing? Who is it they enjoy watching?”

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Rankings ramifications for final round of pool games

Northern hemisphere teams are poised to top the four groups for the first time in the tournament’s history.

England are guaranteed top spot in pool D, Wales need a win over Georgia to top pool C and France and Irealdn are favoured to top pools A and B.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s 15-month reign at the top of the rankings will continue if they to beat Scotland on Saturday.

Andy Farrell’s team have held top spot since July 2022 but they will slip out of second to be replaced by France if they lose and Les Bleus beat Italy.

There is a chance that Australia – already lanuguishing at an all-time low 10 could slip to 11th – if Japan and Italy both win.

‘There’s animosity’

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Jean Kleyn, who played five Tests for Ireland before switching alleigences to South Africa, is expecting a hostile battle between his ex-outift and Scotland as they battle for a place in the quarterfinals.

“We’re probably going to see Ireland win, but just because the Irish beat us last week I’d say I’d like to see Scotland win over them,” Kleyn told media.

“No, realistically speaking, we’ll probably see Ireland come out victorious there. They’re a very good team at the moment.”

He said there was an intense rivalry between the sides.

“There’s a high level of attrition. There’s a little bit of animosity between the Irish and the Scots and there always has been, especially from a rugby perspective.

“At club level, you look at teams like Munster and Glasgow there’s always been this underlying – I wouldn’t call it hatred – but there’s a little bit of knife in the back.

“There’s a real combative thing about it. For Ireland and Scotland (tests), it’s even more so. It’s very much magnified at international level. Everything’s a little bit closer to the bone and everything’s a little bit more real. I think it’s going to be a serious match.”

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Kleyn was asked if he would continue to show a calm demeanour during the game joked: “Oh hell no. No. It’s all a facade. It’s my media face.”

Am set for return

Springboks star Lukhanyo Am is in contention to play in the quarterfinals should they qualify for the last eight.

Am was called up to the defending champions’ squad on Monday, replacing injured winger Makazole Mapimpi, in time for the last-eight fixtures scheduled for October 14-15.

The Springboks do not play this weekend, with Ireland and Scotland meeting in Paris on Saturday which could end with the Springboks being eliminated.

For the champions to fail to reach the last eight, Scotland have to beat world number one side Ireland by a margin of 21 or more with both sides needing to claim a bonus point.

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“He’ll (Am) be considered just as much as anyone else and we’ll base a lot of it on what happens in training and also consider what’s gone on in the games prior to this,” assistant coach Felix Jones told reporters.

“We’ll see how he rocks up and how he performs in training over the next two weeks,” he added.

Am made the last of his 35 Test appearances in August, when he suffered a knee injury and was left out of their squad for the World Cup.

“Luckily for us Lukhanyo is quite an experienced player and has been a part of the group for many years now,” Jones said.

“I think probably everyone will agree that when Lukhanyo is at his best he can slot into almost any team.

“Lukhanyo was actually involved in all of our alignment camps, all of our training sessions, up to the point of us pretty much leaving for the World Cup, or the week or two before.

“He’ll be fully up to speed with how things are going here,” he added.

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