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'I’m really happy here, mate. I made the right decision' - Eddie Jones

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Friday Jun 14, 2024

Japan’s head coach, Eddie Jones, is widely regarded as one of the foremost thinkers in the sport.

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Coaching at the highest level since the mid-nineties, Jones has seen it all, both good and bad in the game.

Speaking to Planet Rugby recently, Jones delved into the interesting topic of how to make the sport as ‘audience-friendly’ as possible with the 64-year-old offering an interesting set of ideas.

“Test rugby is fine, it always will be. The more pressing problem is the domestic game and in that regard, yep, this is quite analogous to cricket, where the 20/20 interest in a domestic league has revolutionised the financial model by providing a cash cow,” Jones said.

“I’m a purist – I love Test cricket- I don’t have that much interest in IPL or 20/20, but it keeps the entertainment and interest going – it’s a gateway into the pure form of the sport, and I’m very interested to know how we could leverage that learning into a rugby context.

“People’s attention span is small these days, and they want everything instantly – that’s why T20 has thrived.

“If you look at every other sport in the world, everyone wants things quicker.

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“But we’ve got such a crowded program that I think if we were able to come up with the equivalent of a T20 in rugby, that was designed to bring a lot of money and more new spectators to the game, then freeing up three or four weeks in the in the year-round schedule will be well worth it.”

“I was involved in the setting up of the 12s format – instant rugby that was easily digestible and quick – but still maintained the shape and ethos of the purist 15-man version,” said Jones.

“Perhaps that’s part of the solution? If you and I came back in 50 years’ time and sat and watched rugby over a pint or a glass of wine, I’m sure we’ll see an instant short-form version of the sport that can be better monetised. It might be Sevens, it may be 12s, but I’m confident it will happen, and I am very interested in exploring every avenue that can make the wider sport more sustainable and resilient.”

When asked about his controversial move back to Japanese Rugby whilst he was still contracted to Australian Rugby, Jones said, “I’m really happy here, mate. I made the right decision.

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“I’ve always been indebted to Japanese rugby for the chance it gave me initially to coach professionally and, as I’m getting towards the latter stages of my coaching, it’s a good place to come back, letting me give back the learnings I’ve experienced.”

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