In a recently released interview, former Wallabies Rugby coach Eddie Jones sat down with sports commentator Simon Jordan two days ahead of his resignation from Rugby Australia. Jones, a figure known for his unconventional coaching methods and no-holds-barred approach, left his role following Australia’s dismal performance in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, where they failed to advance beyond the pool stages, marking an unprecedented low in the country’s rugby history.
Jones, renowned for his candidness, used the interview to offer his insights into the factors that contributed to the Wallabies’ disappointing World Cup campaign as well as his exit from English Rugby. He openly discussed the challenges, including issues with player development and squad dynamics that ultimately led to the disappointing World Cup campaign.
While the interview shed light on the turbulent chapter of Jones’s coaching career, it also provided a unique perspective on the state of Australian rugby and the sport’s challenges on a global scale. Jones’ ability to openly address these issues and engage in constructive discourse with Simon Jordan makes this interview a crucial step in addressing the shortcomings and shaping the future of Australian rugby.
The interview itself is a fascinating listen as Jones addresses topics ranging from England and Owen Farrell to being booed in France.
Starting off with discussing his introduction to the game, Jones said,”Well Rugby has always been the game of the elite in most countries maybe not in New Zealand and South Africa but definitely in England and Australia.
“It’s always been the private school or public schoolboy and when you are not from that background then rugby really is not your game but we were forced to play it. Rugby League was our game but we went to a school that played Rugby Union and we were this ragtag group of aboriginals and halfbreeds that could play rugby like nobody has ever seen.
“That forced the hands of people to pick us in various teams but I always felt we are not really part of this, we are just playing. Even today I feel like that, I don’t feel like I am part of the Rugby family. I feel like I am just an interloper there.”
When asked about his reputation as someone who doesn’t compromise, Jordan asked Jones if he was an idealist.
“In some ways and probably one of the most fascinating experiences I had was coaching England.
“I had to play a completely different way, almost the opposite to the way I think the game should be played. But I found some beauty in that because the English generally in rugby and up until recently in cricket they have always been about containment. Stopping the opposition from playing and then we will play off the back of that.
“That was the way England played Rugby and we were able to do that really and then for a period we were able to add this cut and thrust to it that made them such a good team.
“But then I wanted the team to play better than that and then you get into trouble and I would rather fail doing that than settle for being average.” Jones concluded.
Jordan then parlayed that point into his next question where he asked Jones to sum up what sort of coach he sees himself as.
“I think strategically I am pretty good. I am a relatively good selector but then again I can fall into the trap of picking for potential rather than just sticking with whats there.
“I had a coach called Bob Dywer and he always used to say, always pick a player who is going to be better than the play you’ve got.
“And sometimes that can get you into trouble when you pick a talented young guy like a Marcus Smith and you know you’re going to have ups and downs with him. But you know that if you stay there long enough you are going to get the rewards.” Jones conculded.
Discussing Australia’s World Cup woes, Jones highlighted one moment in which he felt highlighted the issues with the Wallabies whilst batting away a suggestion by Jordan that selection was a factor.
“You know we wanted to play a certain way against Fiji and the first play of the game. We played in tight and the space was out wide and we sent the message down to play out wide.
“After the game one of the senior players said to me, were we allowed to take that space out wide.
“That is the opposite of what you want players said after the game and in reality that means we haven’t coached the players correctly.” He concluded.
Later in the interview Jones was asked about Owen Farrell who he was full of praise for as he said that due to his unemotional approach he probably doesn’t get the praise he deserves.
“If you just look at what he has done in the game, he has won ever trophy apart from the World Cup. He has been the final and he has been in the play-off fr third and he is the top England points scorer now.
“He has been colossal in the game but because he is quite unemotional and probably seen as quite a rigid player he probably doesn’t get the praise he should get.
“Probably the most I have seen him get a little bit emotional was after the semi-final when he said he was proud to be English.”
Jordan asked if there was a lack of appreciation for Farrell to which Jones replied “Absolutely”.
Jones was also critical of the media saying they put young athletes at risk due to the hype created around them and their potential.
“Someone like Marcus (Smith) comes through and he is reasonably good at club level but they make him out to be a superstar but he is not a superstar yet. He is a promising young player.”
Jordan then circled back to Marcus Smith’s potential who Jones felt could reach the levels of All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga if given the time.
“You look at someone like Richie Mo’unga, he is 29 now and he is one of those brilliant instinctive player. At test match level those brilliant instinctive players take time to mature.”
Circling back to Smith, Jones was asked if he believed Smith had what it takes to be an international star.
“I think we will see over the next two years, if he can stick at it for the next two years then he will get through it. I think these will be the most formative two years of his rugby life.
“If he can stick at it and not go overseas and stick at it. Keep playing for his club, keep playing for England. Because Owen is on the otherside so there is an opportunity for him to step up.
“I think he can be a really good test player.” Jones concluded of his former young star.
When asked about his experiences in English Rugby, “I loved it mate. I loved the players, I enjoyed the media jousting here. Because the media for Rugby in England is probably the highest and most intense in the world.”
To which Jordan interjected to ask if the New Zealand media were more intense to which Jones replied.
“It’s bigger than New Zealand, much bigger.
“They are always beating the drum to get a different story out so that was part of it. The Premiership when I was here was robust and dynamic. So I have only got good memories.
“My only regret was that I didn’t finish off what I started and in the end I was probably proven right as I knew the team needed to change to win the World Cup and there hasn’t been enough change.
“Sometimes you get to a sticky period with a team where you’ve got your experienced players and you’ve got young players and the young players just aren’t consistent enough and you get a cap in performance and that’s what we have seen with England.” Jones concluded on the matter.