Wallabies coach Eddie Jones is reported to have been secretly interviewed by Japanese rugby officials to take over as the country’s head coach just days before the start of Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
It has been previously reported Jones is considering walking away from Australian rugby with four years still on his contract after formal discussions about returning to Japan, where he coached from 2012 to 2015, and the Sydney Morning Herald reports Jones had been actively involved in the process of finding a successor for current Japan coach and former All Black Jamie Joseph.
Jones was reported to have applied for the head coaching role of the Brave Blossoms, and took part in an online Zoom interview with the Japanese rugby officials on August 25. At the time, he was in Paris with the Wallabies, two days out from a World Cup warm-up match against France. The Wallabies lost the match 41-17, the fifth on the trot the 63-year-old had lost as head coach.
Jones declined to comment on questions put to him by the Sydney Morning Herald, but a Japan Rugby Football Union spokesperson confirmed a selection process was under way.
“We have a policy that we won’t disclose any information about any candidates until we announce the new head coach, so unfortunately, there is no comment from our president at the moment,” the spokesperson said. “The new head coach has not been decided yet.”
Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh said in a statement: “I take people at their word, and Eddie’s said there’s nothing in it. So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of the story, and everyone’s focus is on this weekend’s crucial game against Wales.”
Earlier this year, Jones replaced New Zealand’s Dave Rennie as the coach of the Wallabies.
A staggering groundswell of expectation and promises accompanied Jones’ appointment seven months out from the World Cup, but Australian rugby fans are now rapidly turning to point the finger squarely at their governing body’s board after their 22-15 loss to Fiji.
Against the Wallabies, Fiji exposed the typecast fallacy that they are merely a flamboyant team. Sure, Josh Tuisova is a one-man wrecking ball and Fiji possesses lethal athletes, but their triumph was built on pressure rugby – supreme breakdown dominance, scrum superiority and kicking the points on offer.
The Wallabies face Wales tomorrow morning, with Jones swinging his axe on World Cup rookie first five-eighth Carter Gordon after he was substituted with more than 30 minutes to go in their shock upset loss to Fiji. Ben Donaldson will instead don the Wallabies’ No. 10 jersey for their do-or-die match.