Eddie Jones on his failures with England and why he was fired

Eddie Jones on his failures with England and why he was fired

Eddie Jones, who is based in Japan, explains his contentment despite the disappointment of losing his job as England head coach last month by saying, “It’s where I feel most calm, mate.” “I can conduct my business reasonably unhindered because I’m not constantly watched and I don’t draw much attention.”

There is a noticeable difference between Jones today and those tense situations when he was under a lot of stress, and I have interviewed Jones more than 40 times, mostly when working with him on his book. It means that Jones can now consider the three critical errors he feels he committed while leading England for seven years. The worst of them was not always selecting the best assistants, and off the field, he admits it was wrong to claim last year that England’s leadership issues were due to the public education system.
There are “no recriminations towards anyone at the RFU,” according to Jones. They decided on something. Thus be it. And he appears noticeably upbeat as he teases about his future coaching gig, confesses that he still dreams of winning the World Cup, talks about how attending church gives him calm, and emphasizes that despite turning 63 this month, his coaching aspirations are unaffected.
He doesn’t seem like the irritable and worn-out coach he frequently resembled in the previous few years. I never experienced that while I was working, he claims. But when you reflect, you realize that there were moments when all you could think about was your job. We do it for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we enjoy it. However, I’m ready to go once more.

Jones’ enthusiasm is due to the fact that he has “a handful of solid alternatives. I’m about to start discussing contracts, so I’ll decide within the next few weeks.

Is he thrilled by both possibilities? He responds with a wide grin, “100%, mate,” while I look for cues. They have very diverse aspects, and I will decide based on where I think I could contribute the most over the course of the next four to five years.

Is one offer coming from a rugby powerhouse and the other from a rising rugby nation? He says, loving the game, “One’s one and one’s the other, pal.”

I wonder if Jones, who led his home Australia to the World Cup final in 2003, would think about working with Dave Rennie, the current Wallabies head coach. Jones served as Australia’s coach from 2001 to 2005. “No, dude, I’m not an assistant coach. I’m not drawn to that kind of work.

Although he prefers to be a head coach, South Africa did hire him as a consultant ten weeks prior to the 2007 World Cup. Numerous Springbok players have stated that Jones’s arrival was essential to their team winning the world title that year. It is shocking to think that Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s cunning rugby director, might potentially offer Jones a role. One of the most interesting sporting stories of the year would be Erasmus and Jones planning England’s demise at the World Cup. Jones responds, chuckling, “I’d become a TikTok specialist, mate.”

Georgia would be an intriguing fit among developing nations. Jones, however, has consistently stated to me that coaching the USA is quite appealing. “100%. That would be one of the best ventures, but from what I can tell, World Rugby is starting to assess if the funding for that nation has prepared them. It has come to a standstill because the USA was eliminated from the World Cup.

Does he still dream of winning the World Cup despite his incredibly impressive track record and the fact that Japan became the tournament’s biggest story in 2015? Of course, I want to lift the trophy, so yeah. But I truly appreciate the team-building and rugby-playing processes.

With 59 victories out of 81 tests won, Jones has the best record of any England rugby coach in history, outperforming Sir Clive Woodward’s 71% average. Three Six Nations championships, one grand slam, and the 2019 World Cup final were all won by England. These are significant accomplishments in contrast to last year when his fractured squad won only five of the 12 Test matches, and Twickenham was overtaken by doom.

He claims that there has been an effort to remove him since the 2020 Six Nations. “Some people think I’m an idiot, but the drums were thumping very loud,” I said.

England only prevailed in one of four Tests last fall. However, it’s likely that he would still be in command if Marcus Smith had made a crucial conversion, which would have helped transform a comeback draw of 25-25 with New Zealand into a memorable victory. He beams. We don’t deal with ifs in our house, as my wife says.

Even though England’s performance suffered a sad decline, Jones maintains that he was “teaching brilliantly.” Yes, especially in the past 18 months. Some parts of me exclaim, “Goodness me! We played some really good rugby in November. The rugby we played at the end of the game (gaining parity after falling down 25-6 with 10 minutes remaining) makes you sit on the edge of your seat. I thought we were excellent against Japan and then New Zealand played good rugby and we hung in there.
But after the game, he claimed that his coaching was poor. “I’ve always believed that you should accept responsibility when you lose. Give the players credit when we succeed, especially in England where the media is so influential. The players are something you want to keep as safe as possible.

“We got outpowered by South Africa in our final game,” he said. Rugby has become much more physically demanding, therefore you must kick well and have excellent contesting skills at the breakdown. The side that adapts the quickest from now until the World Cup will win it. As a result, the game is altering drastically. I can already envision how you do it in my thoughts.

What might he have changed towards England? “I don’t have any regrets, but there were a few errors and a few hasty decisions,” the speaker said. According to Jones, the work of his assistants is “simply so vital because they’re handling the bulk of the coaching” because rugby has gotten “a lot more complex.” Could he have done more to create the chemistry he and some of his assistant coaches lacked? “Mate, I think it’s always about choosing the right individuals.”

Under Jones, there was a regular turnover of workers, although he concentrates on his best hire. From 2016 to 2020, Steve Borthwick worked there. He then desired a career of his own. One of my responsibilities was to help England win once more, which I did, as well as to help develop the next head coach. Steve will do a bloody good job, so I can look back with satisfaction. He is extraordinary.

What else might Jones have improved upon? “In 2020, we won both of the available trophies—the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup—but received harsh criticism for our playing strategy. It was necessary to change to a better style, and I perhaps misjudged the evolution. You can’t cite those other circumstances as an excuse, even though Covid and Saracens were demoted for exceeding the pay cap.

Jones frequently discussed his struggles to help athletes become leaders when we were coworkers. In an interview last year, he publicly expressed his opinion that athletes who attended public schools lived privileged lives and blamed this on them. He recalls the harsh response from the RFU and the Twickenham fans and says, “That was one of my faults, man.” You’re in jeopardy as soon as you push that bunch back. Sport is not exempt from the importance of diversity, though.
Jones always has a soft spot for athletes from the so-called “wrong side of the tracks,” in part because he himself has always felt out of place as a young man of mixed Japanese and white Australian ancestry. But the thank-you notes from “at least 50 players” he chose for England have given him encouragement. “That was one of the wonderful things because they don’t need to say anything right now because you won’t advance their careers,” the person said. I have the utmost respect for English athletes. They put up a lot of effort and give it their best, and I loved being their coach. The saddest part is always that. Although you are not their friend, you have a tremendous regard for them and a want to work well as a team. The hardest part of the job is likely losing that.

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He has questioned whether he was too forgiving of the players. There is this impression I’m a complete nutcase. But it’s been a long time since I was like that. I’m not sure if I came off as too sentimental in England. Is what I got from the players enough? Most likely not, which is why you lose your job, dude.

When Jones talks about his time with England, he exudes pride. “Eighteen straight wins is still the world record for a tier one country,” he adds. We were the only team in Australia to double up on series victories. We reached the World Cup final, and that’s how I envision England playing: with speed, power, a ton of toughness, and a little bit of finesse. Although delightful, we were never quite able to restore the proper balance.

Jones cherished following the World Cup football while he was on his required holiday. “It was great, and I really appreciated what Croatia and Morocco achieved. Two tiny populations, each singing to their own song, advanced to the semifinals. And that final was stunningly beautiful.

In September, the men’s Rugby World Cup will begin, and Jones thinks “six teams can win it. Australia has drawn with New Zealand, defeated South Africa, and lost [away] to France by one point. They are thus one of the six countries with England. South Africa and New Zealand are rated third and fourth, respectively. The two most favored teams are France and Ireland (ranked 1 and 2). Even if they are only marginally ahead, it doesn’t matter because in nine months they might not still be. With a group of countries yearning to play them, New Zealand has typically been far ahead at previous World Cups. Typically, it is South Africa, which has three World Cup victories. Now that has changed.

The hosts and reigning Six Nations winners are France. Jones admits, “They’ve got a 2023 project.” “If you look at French sporting history, you’ll see that they’ve been able to pull that off for World Cups where the entire nation supports the campaign. Currently, it’s functional, but what about later this year? Nobody is aware.

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Has Borthwick heard from Jones? “Very briefly after I was done. I told him to stay in touch with me if he needs anything and wished him the best. This month, I’ll be spending time in the UK again, and if he needs anything, I’ll be there to help.

Before the Ashes start this summer, Jones will have already departed England. He is a devoted cricket fan, but when asked if he saw England’s Test team’s most recent victory in Pakistan by a score of 3-0, led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, he shakes his head in disbelief. “Hey, pal, they still haven’t played Australia. Watch their performance in the Ashes. England is doing well, but maintaining it is the hardest part.

Jones found solace in attending church after having a stroke in Japan in 2013. He has visited the same church once more. “I’m not really a Christian, but it’s interesting how you seem to be drawn to religion. I believed it was crucial that we spend Christmas and New Year’s there since you can feel the tranquility of the setting. That enables you to contemplate quietly.

Is he aware of how quickly time is passing? “Well, I had dinner with several Goldman Sachs employees the other night, along with the chairs of a few very large Japanese corporations. All of them were in their 70s. They had such witty conversations on everything, including politics, Covid in China, the Japanese economy, and sports. If you take care of yourself, there is no reason why you shouldn’t succeed in anything at that age. Therefore, there is no reason why I shouldn’t continue coaching for at least one more World Cup cycle.

There is still time to think about England and his choice to carry on after the 2019 World Cup. “I knew it was going to be difficult because we had to rebuild the team and because you’re going to face more criticism as England’s first foreign coach. But I’m so happy I gave it a shot. I hope that when I leave, England will be in a better state than when I arrived. I’d like to assume that, no matter what team I lead, I’ll follow the same procedure the next time.