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'What a disgrace. I feel sorry for Japan': Sonny Bill's blistering smackdown of 'full of crap' Eddie Jones

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13th December, 2023
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Sonny Bill Williams has unleashed a massive spray at former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, calling him a liar and a disgrace and criticising his “out of touch” record as a head coach.

Jones will front the media in Japan on Thursday night having been confirmed as the replacement for Jamie Joseph as Japan’s head coach. It followed repeated denials from Jones that he had been speaking to Japan about the job before Australia’s World Cup disaster.

“It’s quite sad, isn’t it? My thoughts on this whole saga is that he lied,” Williams told his employers at Wide World of Sports.

“Obviously he lied to the players, he lied to the public, he lied to the Australian rugby union. What a disgrace.

“I feel sorry for Japan. His track record speaks for itself. I’m a big believer in the proof is in the pudding and what is his proof? His proof is he’s been fired, sacked from England in the last few years. He’s burned a lot of bridges.

“I actually feel sorry for Japan that they believe this guy is gonna take them somewhere where his track record shows that he hasn’t been able to do. It seems like he’s a little bit out of touch with what’s going on.

“I guess I’m just speaking from an ex-player’s point of view. I could never believe in someone that I knew was pretty much full of crap. Japanese culture is all built on respect, loyalty, things that he’s shown that he’s not about.

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Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams speaks to Quade Cooper of the Wallabies before game three of the International Test match series between the Australia Wallabies and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on July 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams speaks to Quade Cooper of the Wallabies before game three of the International Test match series between the Australia Wallabies and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on July 16, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

“If it wasn’t for the captain’s call, the great captain’s call that it was, he might not even have had a job before Australia’s disastrous World Cup.

“My last point would be, from an Australian rugby point of view; one of gratitude because we’re moving, we can move in the right direction.

“We want to get back to where we are, which has been a rugby powerhouse and one of the few countries that have won two Rugby World Cups – an illustrious past playing on the international stage.

“They have great talent within the squad, I truly believe it. Phil Waugh (Rugby Australia CEO) has said some great stuff and what they’re looking at and trying to achieve now bringing everything under one umbrella so they can move forward in the right direction.

“Does he owe Rugby Australia, the public, an apology? I’d say they should be thanking him because he’s left and hopefully things can change.”

The pair traded verbal barbs during the World Cup when SBW criticised Jones’ decision to not take an experienced No.10 to the tournament.

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“When you’re a television commentator you’re always right. Maybe I need to be a television commentator then I’ll be right all the time,” Jones countered.

Tarnished beyond recognition, Jones’s reputation as a rugby coaching guru can now perhaps only be resurrected in the country where they still remember him as a miracle worker.

A year and one week since being sacked as England coach, beginning a calamitous soap opera which left him derided all the way from Tasmania to Twickenham, the 63-year-old must prove back in Japan he still has something left to offer the global game.

But after being announced as the Brave Blossoms’ coach for a second time on Wednesday, it will be no easy task for Jones to regain respect from the rugby world after being widely perceived to have left the Wallabies in the lurch while constantly denying any links to the Japan job.

Inevitably, news of his appointment 45 days after quitting as Australia’s coach was met with a torrent of outrage, indignation and condemnation on social media

Former England player Andy Goode led the charge on X, tweeting: “Absolutely never spoken to them maaaate! Nek minnit Eddie Jones gets the Japan job! A man you can never trust!!”

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Jones’s performances with both England and Australia since 2019, featuring his sacking by the RFU last December and followed by the Wallabies’ historic failure to reach the quarters in France, has left questions over whether he’s mislaid his once sure touch for good.

But if there’s anywhere left on Planet Rugby where Jones isn’t going to get the pantomime boos heard throughout the World Cup – and even on his last coaching appointment with the Barbarians in Cardiff last month – it’s surely in Japan, a country where he has family roots and total respect.

Jones, who’ll begin his job on January 1 and whose first match is set to be against his former charges England in Tokyo in June, has remained close friends with Japanese RFU president Masato Tsuchida throughout his recent travails.

And just as Rugby Australia was happy to sign him up amid his later troubles with England, he and Tsuchida have remained staunch allies ever since Jones’s first spell in the job between 2012 and 2015, which culminated with ‘the miracle of Brighton’ as the Blossoms beat South Africa at the World Cup.

It still resonates as one of the great sporting shocks of all-time, with Tsuchida even noting Jones’s major influence on the development of Japanese rugby when he came on board as JRFU boss last June.

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Japan coach Eddie Jones in faces the media during a Japan Press Conference at the Hilton Hotel on September 21, 2015 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Jones was no shoo-in for the Japan role, but even though South African Frans Ludeke had his backers after leading Kubota Spears to the national club title, the Australian’s standing as the man who led England to the final of the 2019 World Cup in Yokohama remained impeccable.

And there’s a theory that, despite the turmoil that’s engulfed him this past year, his return to Japan could prove a nice fit, with Jones expected to be given the opportunity by Tsuchida to enjoy the sort of control over centralised development of the game there in a way he felt he never did in Australia.

And after the heady excitement of the 2019 World Cup on home soil, where the Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals, 2023 was a big let-down with their elimination in the group stages.

So the national team needs a reset – and it really does also look as if Jones’s rock-bottom stock can only head in one direction.

Meanwhile Kiwi John Mitchell had a big dig at his former boss when he spoke to media for the first time as England’s women’s coach overnight.

Mitchell worked as a defence coach for the England men’s team under former coach Jones in 2018, but left in July 2021, just months after signing a contract extension.

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He denied that a rift opened up between him and Jones after the Australian refused to grant him permission to watch his son Daryl, an international cricketer for New Zealand, play for Middlesex on a day off.

On Thursday he insisted he was “not an Eddie Jones” and was “absolutely” committed to leading England to the 2025 World Cup.

Mitchell was Japan’s defence coach under Jamie Joseph at this year’s World Cup.

Asked if he would be tempted by a higher-profile coaching role in the men’s game if the opportunity arose, Mitchell said: “I’m not an Eddie Jones [who quit the Australia job after they failed to reach World Cup knockout stages]. That’s just not going to happen.”

(With AAP)

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