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'Eddie's over here': Jones reignites his work-in-Japan controversy

By PA
(Photo by Sankei via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has resumed his controversial role with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath just over two weeks after England collapsed to another disappointing Guinness Six Nations. The Rugby Football Union has stated that it is comfortable with the work that Jones does with Suntory, even though it means its head coach is working with top players from rival countries.

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Last year Jones gave advice to New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett and on this occasion, he is coaching players including All Blacks star Damian McKenzie and Australia centre Samu Kerevi. The England boss is among the highest-paid coaches in international rugby but for the past two Six Nations has presided over failed campaigns consisting of three defeats. The recent championship is currently under review by the RFU.

“Eddie is over here at the moment helping us out. He is hard at work. He’s not having a holiday here, that’s for sure,” Suntory coach Milton Haig said. “He’s running a few drills for us around our breakdowns and doing a lot of talking to the young players.

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“He is not doing it because he wants money or praise, he’s doing it because he has a long affiliation with the club and he wants to see the club progress and see the young players progress. I think he gets a kick out of just helping out really and having no expectations. That’s probably a bit of rest for him in itself.

I saw the kerfuffle that went on in the press over there (last year) – they probably won’t like it he’s talking to Samu Kerevi and Damian McKenzie at the moment. It’s a storm in a teacup – he’s just a rugby man and is really keen to talk to rugby people and see what he can learn off them.”

Jones retains the full backing of the RFU – despite performances in the last two Six Nations – with chief executive Bill Sweeney still viewing him as the best man to lead England into next year’s World Cup. Sweeney stated a fortnight ago that any of Jones’ commercial contracts have to be signed off by Twickenham, but that his agreement with Suntory pre-dated his appointment as head coach in late 2015 and was declared at the time.

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Jones’ decision to work in an alternative role in Japan while the domestic season ramps up – the Heineken Champions Cup knockout phase starts this weekend – remains highly contentious, however. England play three Tests in Australia in July before embarking on a challenging autumn schedule at Twickenham of clashes with Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa.

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