In dismissal Eddie Jones As head coach eight months from the World Cup, England rugby may have wrapped an early Christmas present for the woebegone wallabies in 2023. Fiercely Aussie Jones is suddenly a free agent with an ax to grind and a world cup plan. This makes him a very dangerous adversary to his former masters, and a massive – albeit slightly volatile – weapon of mass destruction should the gold men take him as a firearm.
Rugby Australia has backed coach Dave Rennie until the 2023 World Cup in France. They committed to his vision, recognized his popularity among gamers, and supported him to deliver when it matters most. To do this, when Rennie has a winning record of 37% (the lowest of any Australian manager in the professional era), and when the team has just had its worst season of its three managers, talks about the admirable loyalty, audacious vision or recklessness of RA.
Yet few would say that after finishing the international season with just five wins (none in a row) from 14 Tests, Australian rugby needs more if they are serious about challenging for the William Webb Ellis Trophy in September. Is ‘Fast Eddie’ – the mastermind who has beaten Australia in 10 of his last 11 outings – the turbo boost the Wallabies crave?
Those who remember Jones’ scorching reign as Australia coach two decades ago would warn against the fox returning to the henhouse. Named in 2001, Jones won the Tri Nations that year then upset the All Blacks in the semi-finals before losing to England after Jonnie Wilkinson’s field goal. Although under contract until 2007, seven consecutive defeats in 2005 sounded the death knell. Out of 57 Tests, Jones won 33 – a record 58% win.
But there is the catch. This record increases to 82% during the four World Cups disputed by Jones. After the heartbreaker in 2003, Jones was South Africa’s main technical adviser for their 2007 title. Brave Blossoms surprised the Springboks. And in 2019, Jones once again took England to the final.
Oddly, this focus on World Cup success is why England eliminated him. An agitated English rugby crowd booed him from the pitch last week, tired of recent uninspiring performances Jones shrugged off as minor setbacks as he experimented with 112 players and more than 80 coaches over a seven-year reign in the league. quest for world domination in 2023.
Certainly, despite scoring 73% (the greatest of any English manager) and equalizing New Zealand’s all-time record of 18 consecutive wins in 2017, Jones’ former luster was missing this season, winning five Tests ( including two in Australia in July) and losing six. So the Twickenham triggers did what former Wallaby Matt Giteau said was “the dumbest thing they could do to the England rugby team. [Jones] plans and plans and plans ahead for… the only competition he’s always been right time and time again. Big mistake.”
And big opportunity for Australia? In July, the rugby rumor mill was hot and heavy with stories that Jones was lined up to return home in 2024 in a director of rugby role. If true, the plan can now be accelerated to leave Rennie with the reins as promised, but with the strategic brains of Jones and a savvy part of the Wallabies camp heading into Paris 2023.
If it works there, it sets Australian rugby up well for a successful British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 before Jones and a new coach – perhaps the Brumbies’ Stephen Larkham or the Force’s Simon Cron – restart the crop. of the Wallabies so that the current crop of Australia young shooters win the 2027 World Cup right here in Australia.
The stars align. But if Australia want Jones a year early, they will have to act quickly. There is movement – some might say panic – as rugby’s four-year cycle nears its peak. A day before Jones was dropped, Wales speared Wayne Pivac and installed Warren Gatland who left New Zealand urging Scott Robertson to replace Ian Foster in 2024.
But Jones is a maverick. At 62, he can chase one bucket list item from left field: rugby league. Jones left his triumphant tour of Australia that year straight to an NRL camp with the Melbourne Storm, and he mentored new Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold in England. After all, Michael Cheika has recently proven that it is possible to lead Lebanon to the Rugby World Cup and then lead Argentina to victory against the All Blacks in the same weekend.
Even this love of the league elevates his value to rugby. In 2001, Jones was on trial for the Sea Eagles when he recruited a George Smith and turned him into the Wallabies’ greatest flanker. Forgiven for his past ills and celebrated for his growth since, then tasked with a role of overseer, not coach – Jones’ intensity as a leader would border on megalomania – he could make the difference. The Wallabies need a wild card to win big in 2023. Jones might just be their wild card in the pack.