Eddie Jones visited Twickenham yesterday for the first time as Head Coach of the England Ruby Team, after replacing Stuart Lancaster. However things might have been very different but for one night of magic at Brighton’s American Express Community Stadium in September.
While a top notch international coach, few would have predicted that Jones would end up succeeding Lancaster at the beginning of the competition. As hosts, England were one of the favourites, but crashed out in the pools after defeats to Wales and Australia.
Jones then fended off possible interest from the likes of Jake White, Wayne Smith, and England’s own World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward (who defeated Jones’s Australia in the World Cup Final in 2003) to claim the coveted role, the first time the team has been managed by a foreigner.
Impressive though Jones’s record had been, including managing Australia between 2001 and 2005, and being part of the coaching team for South Africa’s successful World Cup campaign in 2007, it is likely to have been the excellent performances put in by lowly Japan during the Rugby World Cup in 2015 that really caught the eye of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
Of Japan’s record three wins in the competition, by far the most impressive was their 32-34 victory over the mighty South Africa on 19 September in Brighton. During an assured performance Japan looked confident and more than a match for their highly rated opposition, scoring two tries and five penalties using high skill levels which more than matches their swagger.
These are all qualities that will have been envied by England during the competition and that the RFU will hope Jones can bring to England prior to the Six Nations competition next year. However, without what was one of the Rugby World Cup’s best ever games it seems highly unlikely that Jones would be more than an outside candidate for the position of England Rugby Head Coach.
We are sure that he will remember Brighton fondly in his new oposition.
Feature image from here.