Eddie Jones’ acrimonious second coming as Wallabies coach has officially come to an ugly end.
The 63-year-old has resigned as Wallabies coach 10 months into his five-year deal with Rugby Australia. He won’t be paid out for his contract.
Jones, whose future has been the subject of sustained speculation over the past six weeks since being linked to an interview with the Japan Rugby Football Union, said he felt he could no longer achieve what he wanted to in Australian rugby and, therefore, has walked.
“The changes we agreed cannot be done as we planned so I don’t believe I can make the difference we need,” Jones told The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Fitzsimons.
“Sometimes you have to eat s–t for others to eat caviar further down the track.”
His sorry departure comes after overseeing the Wallabies’ dreadful World Cup campaign, where the two-time world champions missed the knockout stage for the first time after defeats to Fiji (22-15) and Wales (40-6).
After being parachuted in to replace Dave Rennie in January, Jones won just two of nine Tests in charge of the Wallabies. His lone wins came against Georgia and Portugal.
After losing his first five Tests back in charge, the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign hit a major snag when they lost key forwards Taniela Tupou and Will Skelton at training ahead of their narrow loss to Fiji. The injuries came after Tate McDermott was ruled out because of concussion.
Then, less than 24 hours from the Wallabies’ crunch Test against Wales, it was reported that Jones had interviewed with the JFRU for the soon-to-be vacant Brave Blossoms head coaching role.
Jones has denied he spoke with the JRFU, saying he was “committed to Australian rugby”.
“I’m staying. I’ve always been committed to Australian rugby, want to leave it in a better place and that’s still the job,” said Jones at a media conference less than two weeks ago.
“My commitment is to put Australia in a better place, and you’ve got to have things operating to put it in a better place, and part of it is making sure we get better alignment. I’ve got to help drive that with the CEO and the chairman.”
During that press conference, Jones said he accepted he had to battle to help restore pride to the Wallabies.
“I didn’t come back to Australia to have a holiday – sit down at Coogee Beach, eat fish and chips, have a nice flat white. It was always going to be a battle. When you’ve got a team that hasn’t done well for a long period of time, it’s always a battle.”
Jones didn’t so much as burn bridges with his decision to quit – he has blown them to smithereens.
“I’m so pissed off with the situation now. I’m really pissed off with what has happened. Look, I take responsibility for the bad results,” Jones said on Saturday.
“But I don’t take responsibility for 20 years of decline of Australian rugby. And that’s what’s trying to be pinned on me: 20 years of decline; that I’m an unsavoury character, all these sorts of things, and anyone that knows me knows that’s not the truth. Right?
“That’s what’s trying to be pinned on me at the moment. So I don’t really care what happens after this. But I want to make sure that we’re leaving Australian rugby in a better place. And if there’s a realisation that, yes, we need to change, then it’ll be worth what I’ve done.”
Jones was forthright in backing his decision to reject veteran players Michael Hooper, Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley for the doomed Cup campaign.
“The situation reminded me of when Wayne Bennett let Wally Lewis go. No one could quite understand why, but Wally Lewis wasn’t a great role model for the rest of the team,” Jones said.
“And for those guys, I don’t think they were the right role models for the team going forward. Don’t get me wrong. They’re not bad guys. But you need guys – particularly when you’ve got a team like Australia has at the moment – you need guys who are obsessed with winning, obsessed with being good, and those three are past those stages.”
Hooper told Stan Sport: “I’ve got no response. He’s entitled to his own opinion as are we all as we’re all fans of the game. He’s a bit more of a fan and he’s very involved in the game. I’ve got nothing more to say. I’m doing what I’ve always done and I’m hoping to do that next week when I play for the Barbarians and potentially sevens next year. I’m going to carry on being the best player I can be.”
Jones will be a coach of the Barbarians next week in Cardiff.
Meanwhile, Jones was savaged by rugby fans on Sunday after the news broke.