Eddie Jones made his international coaching mark with rugby powerhouses Australia and South Africa. The former New South Wales hooker might be remembered best though for what he has done with Japan.

On a scale of one to 10 in sporting upsets, the Brave Blossoms' victory over the Springboks is a comfortable 11. Jones has achieved the impossible, the World Cup win at Brighton assuring him of a place in sports history.

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Japan had one World Cup victory in 24 games until this week, and that was 24 years ago against hopeless Zimbabwe. Jones has engineered a remarkable turnaround, taking a team once scoffed at for a lack of physical power to a point it drew complaints from an All Black team surprised by the Japanese scrum in Tokyo. And it has been a hard road in more ways than one.


Two years ago, Jones suffered a stroke which put his future in any rugby capacity in doubt. He may have rested in his hospital bed, and recalled the day that Stirling Mortlock intercepted a Carlos Spencer pass to send his Australian team into an epic World Cup final which resulted in defeat to Clive Woodward's England. Less remembered, but still significant, was his assistant's role with Jake White, as South Africa plotted their way to a stoic 2007 World Cup victory. The 55-year-old Jones could never have envisaged that these achievements would be eclipsed with a team that still has no hope of winning the World Cup.

Jones - his mother is half Japanese and his wife is Japanese - took over Japan in 2012 and began to deal with the lack-of-size issue with their players. He even sought out football coach Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich's renowned boss who made his name as a player and manager at Barcelona, the Spanish giants who invented their own system of playing.

Footnotes like this take on a new meaning after a result like the one in Brighton.

Jones told the Kyodo News: "The soccer approach (involves) everything being done in preparation for the game and in order to be tactically aware.

"I watched Bayern train and (thought) we can improve greatly with adjustments in the way we train. Rugby and soccer are very similar in that you always want to move the ball into space and Bayern Munich and (Guardiola's) previous team Barcelona played the most fantastic passing game you have ever seen. The principles are exactly the same. The very best soccer teams vary their depth and formation in order to make the most of the space."

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Jones also brought in 33-test French hooker Marc Dal Maso to work on the scrum (Dal Maso was used by the title-winning Highlanders this year). The result: a scrum demolished by Italy in 2011 shunted the Italians backwards three years later.

Jones once told a Japan press club media gathering that new scrum engagement laws, which soften the hit, had helped Japan. But he gave huge credit to the "absolutely crazy" Dal Maso.


"He changed the mindset of the players...we (now) scrum very lowly and cohesively," said Jones.

"A lot of what we have done involves going back to the old days when Japan scrummed low and played with quick channelled ball. We played the All Blacks (in 2013) and we scrummed very well...the All Black coaches complained to the IRB about our scrummaging.

"When you do that you know you are having an effect. Our scrum was outside the top 30 in the world - we are now in the top five."

Jones had initially suggested he would reduce the foreign influence in the national side, but this strategy has faded. Previous coach John Kirwan used seven foreign-born players in 2007, and 10 four years ago. The class Japanese acts such as backs Fumiaki Tanaka and Ayumu Goromaru are complemented by 10 foreign-born players although most are not exactly household names.

(The foreigners selected were Michael Leitch, Hendrik Tui, Michael Broadhurst, Luke Thompson, Male Sau, Karne Hesketh and the since-injured Justin Ives(NZ), Ryu Holani, Amanaki Mafi (Tonga), and the league livewire Craig Wing who played 17 tests for Kangaroos.)

Jones is fortunate in having a superb leader in loose forward Leitch, who first went to Japan aged 15. Leitch impressed one and all with his commitment and creativity for the Chiefs in 2015.

Veitchy discusses Japan's unexpected victory over South Africa today during the Rugby World Cup

Elsewhere, the omens haven't been so good with Japan's attempts to start a Super Rugby franchise floundering partly because Jones is departing - he has been linked with the South African Stormers. Their ability to host the 2019 World Cup has been questioned.

Japan's corporate wealth continues to draw top players like Jerome Kaino to their competition. But in terms of resources that really count, Japan has set the World Cup ablaze on the sniff of an oily rag, leaving the Springboks humiliated.

Jones, with his intelligence, resolve and affable personality, has performed a remarkable trick. Many more eyes will now turn to their clash with Scotland on Thursday morning, along with Japan's efforts to make the quarter-finals. They are suddenly the darlings of this World Cup, leaving their Pacific Cup rivals in the shade.

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Jones and Leitch had been plotting against South Africa since the draw was made three years ago and will now quickly realign their focus, even if those on the outside continue to marvel at the win over the Springboks. Battling Scotland, with new openside John Hardie reviving their prospects, will be warned.

Jones said: "I've coached for 20 years and I've never worked harder. We wanted to make it a phase game and keep the ball in play. We thought a high ball-in-play time would give us a better chance of winning.


"We've made a splash today but we want to make a real dent in the tournament. We are not done. If we make the quarter-finals then I can retire from coaching. I can be like Clive Woodward and tell everyone what to do on television. That's my dream."