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'Pretty difficult': The idea Jones should practice coaching at a Premiership club, not Japan

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

Eddie Jones broke his silence this week to defend his much-criticised recent coaching trip to Japan, but Exeter boss Rob Baxter reckons excursions like that to the Far East are something the England head coach may have to continue to do as it would be very difficult for a Gallagher Premiership club to throw open its doors to allow him some hands-on coaching closer to home.   


England boss Jones spent some time in April coaching Suntory Sungoliath, the club where All Blacks talisman Beauden Barrett – a likely rival to England’s chances at the 2023 World Cup – had been playing this year during his break from Super Rugby.

It was a trip that generated much criticism and leading the charge was Clive Woodward, the 2003 World Cup-winning England coach. Writing in his April 28 Daily Mail column, he queried: “Has anyone got the bottle to keep Eddie Jones under control? His coaching role in Japan makes English rugby look RIDICULOUS… he should be 100 per cent focused on the job and can afford absolutely zero distractions.”

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Jones explained in midweek why he needs to undertake consultancies at the likes of Suntory. “I’m a coach, I have got to practice coaching,” he insisted. “If you’re a golfer you play golf, if you’re a coach you coach and I only get twelve weeks a year to coach with England so I have got to use my time in between to practice coaching and find better ways to coach. 

“For 25 years I have always practised coaching and I actually use my holidays to practice coaching because I love it, mate, and I get the opportunity to do a little of coaching at Suntory, I get the opportunity to work with some of the best players in the world. 

“Bob Dwyer, who was the foremost influence on my coaching, always said the best players are the best coaches so find the best players, pick their brains, learn from them and that is the best way to improve your coaching. That is something I have done continually for 25 years. I go around clubs continually to try to pick people’s brains and obviously you share some information with them. That is the obvious thing, it’s information sharing. Very useful, mate.” 


Jones had a little time recently with the England U20s, who are preparing for their rearranged Six Nations, while he previously spent two days last September coaching Ealing at a time when the status of their Championship season was up in the air post-lockdown. However, allowing Jones to have some hands-on coaching at a Premiership club isn’t something Baxter envisages materialising given that it would likely cause a top-flight club more hassle than it would be worth to give up a few of their regular training days.  

“It would depend on what it was he wanted to do,” said Baxter when asked at his weekly Exeter media briefing about the practicalities of Jones doing some Premiership coaching closer to home in England rather than having to travel to the Far East and being on the receiving end of some spicy criticism. 

“The reality is what would he be able to do outside of a consultancy with the coaches because you certainly wouldn’t want to change your season structures, your season plans, how your coaching works, the interfacing with the players on a daily training day.

“As regards being on a field and coaching, it would be pretty difficult if I’m honest with you… I don’t think coaching in the Premiership would be anything like the simple answer that it seems. I genuinely don’t because our plans and what we are aiming for are for club success. Yes, we want our players to have some success and play international rugby but ultimately most coaches would tell you that you want to avoid disruption throughout the year, not encourage it.”



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