Australia head coach Eddie Jones on Tuesday denied a rumoured shift to Japan, pledging to stick with the struggling Wallabies following a disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign.
« I’m staying, mate — I’ve always been committed to Australian rugby and I want to leave it in a better place, » Jones said.
Jones reportedly has warm relationships with key powerbrokers at the top of Japanese rugby, and previously coached the Brave Blossoms between 2012 and 2015.
He masterminded the side’s boilover win against South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, arguably its proudest moment to date.
Jones was hailed as the saviour of Australian rugby when he returned to the national setup earlier this year, replacing New Zealander David Rennie after a string of lacklustre results.
Fresh from inking a lucrative four-year contract, the pugnacious former club front rower predicted the Wallabies could win the World Cup this year as he plotted a special « smash and grab » raid on rugby’s greatest prize.
Instead the side were bundled out in pool play — their worst result at the tournament — and have now slumped to seven losses during Jones’s nine games in charge.
With Australia’s tournament on life support after an upset loss against Fiji, speculation began swirling that Jones was already eyeing up his next move — and had been secretly interviewed for Japan’s head coaching role just before the tournament.
Jones denied the rumours, insisting he had « the ability to turn things around » and remained committed to Australia.
Australian media reports claimed Jones had been interviewed by the Japanese federation about taking over their team after the World Cup.
The Wallabies’ failure has exposed wider issues at the grassroots level, with participation in decline, and the waning popularity of Super Rugby — a mostly Trans-Tasman competition dominated by New Zealand teams.
Despite the rumours over his future following Australia’s dismal World Cup performance, Jones appeared relaxed.
Asked about a pre-World Cup press conference in August when Jones told reporters they should give themselves « uppercuts », he laughed and said: « I need to give myself an uppercut. »