Home Sport Taskmaster Eddie Jones proves he’s not ‘the messiah’

Taskmaster Eddie Jones proves he’s not ‘the messiah’

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Eddie Jones declared he was “not the messiah” when he took the Wallabies head coach job 10 months ago, and his exit following a dismal Rugby World Cup campaign proved the voluble Australian was right.

Eddie Jones didn’t bring the success Australian rugby would have liked. Picture: BackpagePix

EDDIE Jones declared he was “not the messiah” when he took the Wallabies head coach job 10 months ago, and his exit following a dismal Rugby World Cup campaign proved the voluble Australian was right.

Despite being fired by England last December after their worst annual return in 14 years – winning just five of 13 Tests in 2022 – Jones was hailed as the saviour of an under-performing Wallabies outfit when he was hired in January 2023

Instead, the side won just two of nine Tests with Jones in charge, and crashed out of the World Cup before the knockout stages for the first time in Wallabies history.

The brash 63-year-old’s insistence on fast-tracking rookies at the expense of veteran stars badly backfired in high-pressure games, as did a revolving door of unproven captains.

Jones’ fiery relationship with journalists and being linked to the vacant Japan job didn’t help his public persona.

“Australia feels betrayed, embarrassed and humiliated, as much by Jones’ dalliance with Japan as our nation’s sorrowful World Cup effort,” The Australian broadsheet declared.

“He has overseen a slow-moving car crash that sped up as soon as the Wallabies arrived in France for the World Cup,” read a scathing critique in the Sydney Morning Herald.

With the pressure on and Australian rugby in the doldrums, Jones finally walked over the weekend, concluding an acrimonious second stint as coach despite the lure of a British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 and a home World Cup two years later.

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Before his departure, Jones resolutely stuck by his decisions – saying his only World Cup regret was telling reporters to “give themselves an uppercut” before jetting off to the tournament.

“I need to give myself an uppercut,” he would later say after returning to Australia.

Tough and tenacious

A tenacious hooker at his beloved Sydney club Randwick, Jones never made the Wallaby side.

But he came into his element as a coach, becoming one of the most respected tacticians the sport has seen.

After a three-year stint at the helm of Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies, he was appointed Australia boss for the first time in 2001, with his reputation taking off when he guided them to the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

Only a last-minute drop-kick from England’s Jonny Wilkinson deprived him of the silverware.

Following a period with Saracens and the Queensland Reds, Jones went on to become a widely praised adviser to the South African side that won the 2007 World Cup.

Though born in Tasmania, Jones’ mother is a Japanese-American and it was with Japan’s Brave Blossoms that he recorded some of his best results.

A tough coach who bases a lot of his work on the application of science, he turned Japan into bulldog-fit competitors for the 2015 World Cup.

They stunned South Africa in one of their three wins during the pool stages, but failed to advance.

Jones – who suffered a stroke in 2013 halfway through his Japan stay – left that role and England soon came calling, becoming their first foreign coach.

A no-nonsense operator with little tolerance for squad members who did not embrace the Jones way, he yielded a Grand Slam, a Six Nations title and an appearance in the 2019 World Cup final.

But after a turbulent seven years, marked by numerous changes of playing and support staff, he was dumped in late 2022 only for the Wallabies to take the bait.

Jones said at the time of his appointment by Rugby Australia that he was “not the messiah”, but “sometimes you just need someone to beat the drum.”

“We want pride back in Australian rugby. That’s the most important thing,” he added.

– AFP

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