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Eddie Jones talks Wazza-ball Wales, affection he still has for England

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has admitted his Australia team face a big challenge to stay in the Rugby World Cup when they take on a Wales team inspired by Warren Gatland’s ‘Wazza-ball’ on Sunday night in Lyon.

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Defeat to the Welsh in their Pool C clash will almost certainly spell the end of the Wallabies’ participation in the tournament after their shock 22-15 defeat by Fiji last Sunday in the best game of the competition so far.

It could also lead to the end of Jones’ second spell in charge of the Wallabies with speculation that Jones has already been told he can take charge of the Japan national team after the World Cup if he wants to.

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The 63-year-old Australian is coaching his native country for the second time at a World Cup having led them to the final in 2003 where they lost on home soil to England.

Jones admitted that he has been impressed by how his New Zealand counterpart Gatland has transformed the Welsh team’s fortunes during what is also his second spell in charge. “Warren has done a great job there,” he told this week’s episode of the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

0
Wins
2
5
Streak
1
13
Tries Scored
14
-51
Points Difference
-25
2/5
First Try
2/5
2/5
First Points
3/5
2/5
Race To 10 Points
2/5

“He [Gatland] initially went for the young players and then brought the older guys back. He has got them playing that, what do you call it, Wazza-ball – a very distinctive, strong defensive, high kicking game. And once they get in the opposition 50, they play a lot off (Dan) Biggar. He is still a very good player and probably one of the most competitive players in the world.

“Tactically we need to play a little differently,” Jones added. “We have lost our two power forwards (Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou) and they allowed us to play a certain way to get on the front foot, so against Wales we will have to rethink that so we are in the process of coming up with some ideas there.

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“It’s always difficult after a loss, you’ve got to front up and do what you can. As head coach I always take responsibility for the performance. We decided to go with a young squad to rebuild, and sometimes it’s tough for a young squad to respond within games. That’s my responsibility.

“I can remember, though, how England responded in 2007 after losing the first game to South Africa. We have got the opportunity to do something now. These are the weeks as a coach and a player you feel the most humble, so we are looking for a galvanised performance this week.”

Jones also told podcast host Lawrence Dallaglio about the affection he still feels for the England rugby team despite being sacked by the RFU at the end of last year. Jones was appointed head coach of Australia in January after being sacked by the English in December 2022 after seven years in charge.

Both teams played on Sunday with differing results as Australia were beaten by Fiji in Pool C in St Etienne, their first loss to the Fijians in 54 years, before England beat Japan on a humid night in Nice to make it two wins out of two in Pool D.

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“When I watch England I still have a lot of affection for them,” Jones added. “I love the players and I don’t have any bad feelings towards them.

“It’s not really (difficult to support them). I had a great time there for seven years. Imagine an Australian coaching England for seven years. It’s the most contradictory relationship you could have in the world but I loved it and we had some good success even though it didn’t end well.”

  • The Evening Standard Rugby Podcast with Lawrence Dallaglio is a weekly podcast that launched in 2021 and is running in partnership with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra during the Rugby World Cup. Click here to listen
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