Eddie Jones has revealed the personal cost of the coronavirus pandemic – the cancellation a trip home to Australia to celebrate his elderly mother’s 95th birthday.
The England coach has planned to spend some time in Sydney at the end of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations. However, with the completion of the tournament thrown into chaos by the series of coronavirus-enforced postponements, Jones had to revise his post-campaign schedule and has instead hunkered down in Japan during the pandemic.
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Eddie Jones agrees England contract extension
Speaking on video conference following confirmation that his England contract had been extended through to the 2023 World Cup in France, Jones explained: “I was due at the end of the Six Nations to go home and visit my mother in Australia. It was her 95th birthday but given the situation, if I went back there I would have to self isolate.
“Then my wife wanted to be near her family so we came up to Japan and at the moment we’re just continually assessing the situation. I can do the job – as you see we do everything by video and technology now. We’d like to be back in the country [England] but we will just wait and see and wait for the appropriate time to come back.”
The pandemic hasn’t yet resulted in severe restrictions in Japan similar to the lockdown in Britain. “Not to that extent at the moment. Life is relatively normal, but they are anticipating another spurt so things are tightening up a little bit.”
Jones is due to lead England on a two-Test tour in Japan next July and while indications are the trip will fall victim to the pandemic and be called off similar to the Tokyo Olympics, RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said a final decision about the matches in Oita and Kobe won’t be taken until late April.
“I wouldn’t say absolutely that these tours are off,” explained the chief executive. “You would probably say it is a strong possibility. With the Olympics you have 113 nations and 11,000 athletes coming into Tokyo from all different parts of the world at different stages in the crisis so it is much harder to manage.
“At least with a tour you have got two countries involved… it’s not definitely off but we have set ourselves a deadline to World Rugby to make a decision at the end of April. What has come out of this is an approach from all the unions north and south and World Rugby to restart with a blank sheet off paper and say these really are exceptional times.
“You can imagine there is god knows how many different contingency plans and different options you can put together should the July tours be off. It would be premature to say now are there favoured options amongst those.
“But there is a number we are looking at to ensure that when we are given the go-ahead to play that we will have the matches in place, we will have the ability for the fans to get back together, we will have the ability for the players to get back on the field and compete and we are going through that process now.”
Defeats to South Africa and France haven't knocked his chutzpahhttps://t.co/MaKW1VygOo
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That’s a process which will resume with England knowing they have Jones in situ until the 2023 finals in France. Agreement was struck with the RFU before the start of the recent Six Nations and was due to be announced following the completion of England’s campaign in Rome.
However, that March 14 Italian match was postponed and news of the Australian’s extension was soon put on the long finger due to lockdown measures implemented in Britain, a crisis that coincided with Jones accepting a short-term pay cut last week.
“The RFU showed the way,” he said. “I was really pleased how decisive they were and it was easy to make a decision to follow that. It’s a small thing personally you do to ensure we can get through that next period of time. Part of that is taking that salary cut.
“But the most important part is that the role we have to play once we can get back playing rugby, it’s going to be important that we get the game back together. There was a call before about the clubs struggling, the amateur clubs struggling, the community clubs struggling, and I’m sure there is going to be professional clubs that struggle.
“We have got make sure whatever form rugby takes post this that it’s in a stronger state than it was previously and that is the ambition of the rugby community now, to get everyone working back together and ensure the game is stronger when we get back playing.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” he added about his decision to extend his contract. “We have a great team. We played some really good rugby and are on the cusp of doing something really good. We have got a relatively young squad, full of growth, full of enthusiasm, and I was really pleased with the attitude of the squad during the Six Nations, particularly after the France game which was disappointing for everyone.
“As I explained before the performance was due to my poor coaching rather than the players’ performance. Then the rest of the Six Nations, I thought we played with a lot of endeavour and I can just see us taking rugby to a different level.
“That is what we want to do and that is why I’m so excited to be involved with this group of players – it’s just a great opportunity and it’s something I couldn’t turn my back on.
“We want to become a great team, we want to become one of those teams where people remember how you play over a period of time. That’s the aim I have as a coach. I want a team that plays a perfect game of rugby and I want a team that can be remembered as a great team.
“We have got the players within England to do that. The players have the hunger to do it. We have seen periods of time where they have done it, but we haven’t been able to do it consistently and the test off greatness is to do it consistently.
“With that comes results and if we are the greatest team then a World Cup medal is probably sitting in from of us. But our goal hasn’t changed from what I stated at the start of the cycle and it will continue to be the same.”
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