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Eddie digs in as he flies home - AGAIN denying he wants to quit to coach Japan, while revealing next step

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12th October, 2023
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PARIS – Under-fire Wallabies coach Eddie Jones insists he is “committed to Australia” and has had no “discussion” with the Japan Rugby Football Union.

Jones, 63, touched down in Sydney on Thursday night with his future up in the air following the Wallabies’ World Cup flop and a bombshell report linking him to the vacant Japan coaching role.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the eve of the Wallabies’ 40-6 loss to Wales – their heaviest World Cup defeat and a loss that ultimately led to them failing to get out of the pool stage for the first time – that Jones had been on a zoom interview with the JFRU on August 25.

Following the embarrassing loss to Wales, Jones said “I don’t know what you’re talking about” when asked whether he had interviewed to replace Jamie Joseph and return as Japan’s head coach.

Probed multiple times, Jones insisted he was committed to coaching Australia” before saying he took “umbrage at the questioning that people are questioning my commitment to coaching Australia. I really take umbrage at it”.

Ever since Jones has maintained he has not spoken to the JFRU and, indeed, hasn’t “applied for a job for a long time”.

Head Coach, Eddie Jones looks on during a Wallabies training session, at Stade Roger Baudras on October 07, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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Despite signing a five-year deal in January to coach the Wallabies through until the 2027 World Cup, Jones has appeared resigned to losing his job, saying he was prepared to be the “fall guy” to usher through what he believes his much-needed change.

“Like any job, coaches are in an employer-employee relationship, and we are in a game of winning,” Jones told the Daily Mail last week.

“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.”

Over the past 72 hours, more reports have linked Jones to a return to the Brave Blossoms head coaching role.

Several outlets, including in Japan, say he is the favourite to replace Joseph.

A report from the UK’s Daily Telegraph said a second interview with the JRFU that had been slated for November 5 had been pushed back given Jones will oversee the Barbarians’ match against Wales in Cardiff.

Jones flew out from France on Wednesday and arrived in Sydney on Thursday evening.

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With much of the travelling rugby press remaining in Europe, he was met by Channel Seven news and asked whether he was heading to Japan.

“No comment, mate,” he told Seven. “I’ll speak with the media on Monday. But I’m committed to Australia.”

“As I said, I’m committed to Australia.”

A Rugby Australia spokesman later clarified that Jones would hold a media conference on Tuesday AEDT.

Asked whether he was talking to Japanese officials about a return to the role he last held in 2015, Jones again denied any reports linking him to the role.

“I’ve had no discussion with them, mate,” he said.

None at all?

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“That’s correct,” he said.

Told there were several reports saying he was about to hit the abort button with Rugby Australia, Jones said “I can’t control that”.

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 has denied having any communication with the Japan Rugby Football Union with regards to the Brave Blossoms’ vacant coaching role. (Photo by Adam Pretty – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

As recently as Tuesday, RA officials asked Jones whether there was any validity to the speculation.

RA has also been in regular communication with Jones’ agent Craig Livingstone, who has also said there is no truth to the reports and maintained the veteran coach is committed to the Wallabies.

Jones has a long-held relationship with the JRFU’s new president Masato Tsuchida through League One powerhouse club Suntory, where the Wallabies coach is still a consultant.

One Japanese source described the reports linking Jones to the Japanese role as “bullshit” and that the JFRU in fact don’t want Jones to return to the role.

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Yet, there have been rumours about Jones’ future for much of the year.

Indeed, it was in late May that Jones himself said that he would leave as Wallabies coach regardless of the result in France.

“I’m only coaching to this World Cup,” Jones told Lawrence Dallaglio on the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast, before breaking out into a laugh.

“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.”

He later clarified his position that he was merely not looking past this year’s World Cup.

Even before the strange comments on the podcast, there had been strong rumours that Jones could well leave by the end of the year.

Eddie Jones has come under fire after overseeing the Wallabies’ World Cup flop, where Australia’s young players struggled to stand up under pressure. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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All along RA has said privately if Jones, who was sacked as Wallabies coach by the then Australian Rugby Union in late 2005, doesn’t want to continue in the role they won’t stand in his way of leaving.

Before returning as Wallabies coach in January, Jones made it clear he wanted to see centralisation ushered through by RA.

The governing body also had great plans to power both the high-performance program and build the base coming through in the grassroots through a $200 million private equity cash injection.

Those plans have been somewhat shelved, with RA instead looking to borrow an estimated $60m.

RA continues to negotiate its reform vision with the states, with the Super Rugby franchises divided about what centralisation means. There is a widely held consensus that greater alignment is needed.

Outgoing Wallabies assistant coach Pierre-Henry Broncan said Jones needed to be able to have more control over up to 40 players to ensure the national team re-emerged as a World Cup threat in time for hosting the 2027 tournament.

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“It will depend on what they [RA] are able to put in place,” Broncan told L’Equipe.

“Eddie is a competitor. If he doesn’t have the means or if he feels that things will continue as before, it will be hard for him to stay. If he senses a real dynamic and a desire from Australian rugby to create a high-performance environment, I think he will be there.

“It will be up to Australian rugby to give Eddie Jones the capacity to train around 40 players all year round, which the French team did after a disastrous World Cup in 2015,” Broncan added.

“There was the establishment JIFFs then, with Fabien Galthié, the 40 players present to prepare for international matches. 28 to 30 players blocked, banned from playing at club level during the Six Nations, preparation which intensified around the France team. It has to be the same for Australia if they want to perform well.”

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