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REPORT: Eddie Jones to quit Wallabies and join Japan as head coach

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Editor
12th October, 2023
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Eddie Jones’ turbulent tenure in charge of the Wallabies seems to be over with the coach set to take over with Japan, according to multiple reports from the Asian nation.

While these reports are yet to be officially confirmed by Jones, Japanese rugby officials or Rugby Australia, it seems inevitable that the polarising coach will leave the Australia post imminently despite being under contract for four more years until the next World Cup on home soil and return to the Brave Blossoms, where he was previously in charge between 2012 and 2015.

Speculation over his future has raged for weeks following reports that he had interviewed for the Japan job, but he had long denied contact.

Now, media outlets in Japan are widely reporting that he will take over from Jamie Joseph next year, while several Australian sources have independently confirmed the switch.

Japanese sports media outlet Sponichi reported “This spring, Masato Tsuchida, president of the Japan RFU, with whom Jones has had a honeymoon relationship since his days at Suntory, contacted him.

“Contract negotiations have been held privately behind the scenes and preparations are underway for his first return since the 2015 World Cup, at which he led [Japan] to a historic three wins.”

As well as coaching at club level with Suntory, Jones – whose mother was born in Japan – guided the developing rugby nation to a shock victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.

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After a report in The Sydney Morning Herald last month claimed Jones had secretly interviewed with the Japan Rugby Football Union before the start of the World Cup, which he continually denied, speculation has raged about the 63-year-old’s future.

He was reportedly set to interview a second time early next month but that has been delayed due to his coaching commitments with the Barbarians, who are due to play Wales in Cardiff on November 4.

Chief executive Phil Waugh said on Tuesday that Rugby Australia would not be sacking Jones, however it appears he will resign instead.

“Swapping and changing coaches all the time is not the solution, which is why we’re going through the strategic reset of alignment across the whole system,” said Waugh on 2GB. “It’s been a pretty tough time for Eddie, coming in at a time when we were seventh in the world when he came in. Right now we’re ninth or 10th, so we need to fix the system.”

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh (R) and Chairman Hamish McLennan. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

This latest development in the Jones saga comes in the week of Australia’s elimination from the World Cup, with their departure confirmed by Fiji’s losing bonus point despite their defeat to Portugal on Sunday.

Prior to the World Cup, Jones had pledged to steer the Wallabies to glory in a “smash-and-grab” raid of the Webb Ellis Trophy.

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Insisting he was building for the future, he dropped veteran playmaker Quade Cooper and also overlooked long-time former captain Michael Hooper in two eyebrow-raising selection calls that brought swift backlash from fans and rugby greats.

Jones said through the tournament he was happy to be the “fall-guy” for their results with an independent review to be conducted into the Wallabies’ horror show.

“We came in with the understanding it’s a nine-month job, see what we could do and then everyone will sit down and have a look at what we’ve done, where we want to go and make a decision then what we need going forward,” Jones said.

“There will be some sort of Rugby Australia review in November so at the end of that will be the opportunity to start moving forward.

“I’ve signed a contract and I will do the review and then it’s up to others to decide but I stand by the fact that I take full responsibility.

Eddie Jones. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“I feel like I’ve given the team the opportunity to get better and, as I’ve repeatedly said, the results don’t show that but I think we are.”

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Dick Marks – the former Wallaby turned long-time Australian National Coaching Director – has put the Wallabies’ failed World Cup campaign down to a “broken system” and implored Rugby Australia to look inwards rather than copy any other centralised model.

The governing body will conduct a review into the Wallabies’ World Cup flop, which saw them miss the knockout stages for the first time, in November.

The review will come less than a year after RA held its last, which has yet to be made public, and came after the Wallabies won just five of 14 Tests.

The poor results culminated in RA chairman Hamish McLennan pulling the trigger on New Zealand coach Dave Rennie in January, with Jones, who had been sacked less than six weeks earlier by the Rugby Football Union after seven years in charge of England, returning as Wallabies coach.

But the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign was a disaster from start to finish, as they claimed just two wins from nine matches throughout the year. The only two victories were against nations ranked outside the top 10, as they beat Georgia and Portugal comfortably.

The terrible year has led to many urging McLennan, who was the catalyst for bringing Jones back as coach, to resign.

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