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Eddie Jones pinpoints the time it all went wrong with England

By Jon Newcombe
The England look dejected after their defeat during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 02, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England have moved on and Eddie Jones has moved on, twice, since the outspoken Australian was abruptly sacked as head coach by the RFU in December 2022.

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But with Jones about to face his old charges for the first time since the axe was wielded in Tokyo on Saturday – in a match shown live and exclusively on RPTV, his seven-year tenure as England head coach suddenly doesn’t somehow feel quite so distant.

And In the next episode of Walk the Talk, out tomorrow on RPTV, Jones reveals how the failure to bring the Webb Ellis Cup back to England still haunts him.

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Walk the Talk with Eddie Jones – Trailer | RPTV

Eddie Jones reflects on his career, rugby’s growth in Japan, coaching England and Australia, South African rugby and much more. Full episode coming Tuesday 18 June on RPTV

Coming soon

Video Spacer

Walk the Talk with Eddie Jones – Trailer | RPTV

Eddie Jones reflects on his career, rugby’s growth in Japan, coaching England and Australia, South African rugby and much more. Full episode coming Tuesday 18 June on RPTV

Coming soon

England had produced a performance for the ages in defeating the All Blacks 19-7 in the semi-final but were unable to raise themselves again in the final, losing 32-12 to the Springboks.

“The first four years we were pretty good, culminating in a World Cup final, where I’m still trying to work out why we weren’t close enough to being our best,” he admits in a frank conversation with former Scotland international, Jim Hamilton.

“We were a long way from it. You think about all the different things that go into it, and that was disappointing. Did we get selection right? Tactically, I am not sure there was anything else we could have done, and then it is just the emotion of the occasion and getting the emotion right.

Eddie Jones

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“Sometimes you can over prepare and sometimes you can under prepare and you try to work out if you over prepared or under prepared. I was really conscious of the fact that having had the experience of a couple of World Cup final, we kept business as normal. I don’t think we over prepared, but maybe we under prepared a little bit.”

Winning 59 out of 81 tests, Jones produced the best win percentage of any England head coach in history – his 73% success rate better than even Sir Clive Woodward, who led England to Rugby World Cup glory in 2003.

Jones started with a record 17-test winning run and won successive Six Nations title, including a first Grand Slam since 2003. Up until the final of Rugby World Cup 2019 even his harshest critics would have struggled to talk down his achievements.

But Jones highlights that loss to the Springboks as the moment when it all went downhill for him and his relationship with the RFU.

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Five wins in 12 tests in 2022, their worst performance in a calendar year in 14 years, and growing media pressure ultimately did for him.

“I reckon once you have taken a team to a World Cup final it is so hard to start again,” he concedes.

“The one thing about it, when you get a team to a final in a World Cup, they’re almost at their best age. The only team that has really been able to sustain that is South Africa in the history of the World Cup.

“We had to turn the team over, change the team a little bit, maybe change the way we played a little bit, and in the end, that just created too much instability and we weren’t able to have the consistency of success that England expected and wanted, and that’s far enough and it came to an end.

“I don’t really have any  have any regrets. Seven years coaching England, and it very rarely ends well, the end bits are always quite sour,” he adds.

“How many players get to end their career in a fairytale spot – not many, and it is the same coaching-wise. The longer you stay at a place the more chance there is of it being quite a difficult ending, and that was always going to be the case with England.

“I felt like my relationship with the English press was pretty reasonable, at times it was a bit to and from, but that’s alright, there’s nothing wrong with that.

“I enjoyed how desperate they were to get news. They’d all come in, there’s eight or 10 of them, and they have all got their headline in place. One of the things I quite enjoyed to do was to try and give them a different headline.”

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Once his time with England came to an end, Australia came calling and Jones started his second spell as Wallabies head coach in January 2023 – just seven months out from Rugby World Cup 2023.

Choosing to leave Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper at home was controversial and after some poor pre-tournament results, Australia set off for France with Jones lambasting the Aussie press corps for “the worst press conference ever” immediately before their departure.

So, when Australia failed to get out of the pool stages for the first time in Rugby World Cup history, there was little love lost.

“Coming out of Australia I felt a bit deflated about the whole thing, and obviously the relationship with the media didn’t help that. And in retrospect I would probably have done it in a different way,” he admits.

“With Australia, there was too much fighting there, and that was my fault, I probably went too hard at them. But I was trying to create some news about rugby.

“The easiest thing in the media is to say nothing. That takes a certain sort of discipline. But we need to keep the game growing and I think sometimes you have to take responsibility to engage the media and to engage the media, sometimes you have to be confrontational, and that creates headlines but it also creates news for rugby. I would have preferred to have had  quieter way of doing it but that’s’ not the way it turned out, and so be it.

“When I reflect on it, I probably didn’t have as much control as I would have liked in the way I handled things. It’s funny, you get to 63 and you think you should be able to do that. I was desperate, so desperate to do well for the country that I let that overflow into the media.

“The good thing about Japan is I can’t read what they write!”

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Comments

8 Comments
R
Robbie 30 days ago

Eddie was brilliant for England he gave us pleasure and belief.

D
David 30 days ago

Where to pinpoint? Well, when Eddie took over of course. Fancy dumping Dave Rennie for Fast Eddie - braindead move.

C
Craig 30 days ago

Rugby is only a sport and Eddie we really respect you as a coach in SA
You don’t have to prove a thing to anybody.
The bok players also really enjoy and respect you.

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