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New doc reveals scathing Eddie Jones remarks on Wallabies rugby

By Ian Cameron
Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia, arrives at the stadium prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Portugal at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on October 01, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Julian Finney - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Comments made by former Australia head coach Eddie Jones in which he lambasts the national team for a fundamental lack of toughness have been aired in the new documentary – The Wallabies.

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This revelation comes following Australia’s tumultuous journey through the Rugby World Cup, which has been detailed in a three-part series by Stan Sport.

The documentary offers an at times intimate glimpse into the Wallabies’ preparations and challenges leading up to the global tournament.

The crescendo arrives in the final episode when Jones – now at the helm of Japan’s national team – delivers a blunt assessment of the Wallabies mentality to one of his ex-captains, prop James Slipper.

“That’s the problem mate, we’ve got no hardness about us,” Jones tells Slipper. “Game hardness is different to any sort of hardness, when you just stick in the f***ing game and do it. There’s none of that in Australian rugby now, and that’s where the big gap is, mate.

“If you look at those Welsh players, mate, they play 30 games a year, they’re hardened tough players, so they can just stick at it, and they know they’re going to do it. And we’ve lost that in Australian rugby.

“We’re not not tough, but we’re not trained to be tough now, and we’re not used to playing tough; like it’s an exception to play tough now rather than the norm. It stands out like dog’s balls, mate… it’s set up for failure, mate.”

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His comments – alongside insights from assistant coach Pierre-Henry Broncan about the disparity in match experience between Australian players and their northern hemisphere counterparts – paint a grim picture of the respect Jones had for a team that would ultimately exit the World Cup in ignominy during the pool stages.

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Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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