The career trajectory at the elite professional level of England boss Eddie Jones is well documented. However, the 60-year-old Australian has given a revealing insight into how it all accidentally first began for him as a coach.
He was just finishing up his playing career and his first-ever visit to Japan on his way home following a short stint at Leicester became the starting point for a coaching career that has since featured two World Cup final appearances and numerous other milestones.
In an interview in the latest edition of Rugby Journal, Jones delved back in time and explained how it all first started for him. “It’s a funny story actually,” he said, admitting that at the age of 32 he had never previously thought of becoming a coach. His career started with a first professional role at Tokai University in Japan.
“I finished playing for Randwick. I went and played for Leicester for a half a year and then I had to come back earlier than I thought, so my wife and I came back through Japan. One of my ex-Randwick coaches had coached at one of the clubs there so he said, ‘Go and meet this bloke’. I just went and had a chat and he said, ‘Look, there might be some coaching possibilities’.
“I was just about to finish as a player, so we have a bit of a discussion and from that came an opportunity in Japan when the game went professional and it all started from there… they [Tokai] had come last or second-last for nine years in a row but in the first division, and I didn’t improve them. They came second-last.
“But it was a wonderful coaching experience. I had 110 kids, I think. One coach, me, having to coach 110 kids. They’d always done the session together on a rolled pitch, so I changed it into three groups of 35 and basically, I coached from four until about nine o’clock every night of the week, so it was the best coaching apprenticeship that you could do.
“The thing about coaching is it is about process. It’s about getting the process right. Sometimes you don’t have the best players and you don’t win, but you can still coach well. That taught me the importance of process, of understanding the players you have got, of organising them as effectively as you can and getting them to play as well as you can. And if that doesn’t work out, then don’t get too disappointed.”
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