The search for Stuart Lancaster’s successor is now over and the man chosen to take the hot seat is Eddie Jones. So who is he, what is his track record and how does the future of England rugby look under his stewardship?
Eddie Jones was born in Tasmania to a Japanese / American mother and Australian father who then went on to play hooker for Randwick and New South Wales. He never quite made the grade to play for Australia but did play against the Lions for New South Wales B in 1989. But based on his analytical mind and thirst for knowledge it looked like a coaching career was always going to be his path forward.
His coaching career included his old club Randwick as well as leading the ACT Brumbies to the Super 14 title, the first team from outside of New Zealand to win it. With his time at the ACT Brumbies he was credited with the player development of George Smith and Stephen Larkham.
He then coached Australia A to victory over the British and Irish Lions and subsequently took over the Australia senior team reigns from Rod MAcQueen in 2001. He then led Australia to the world cup final in 2003 where they narrowly lost to England. He then left the role in 2005, before becoming an assistant coach / consultant with South Africa for the 2007 world cup where with Jake White they went on to win the world cup.
He then moved to the UK to coach Saracens in the English Premiership where he stewardship was for a year, until fallings out with the Board of Directors led to his decision to leave. This led to his return to Japan where he took charge of the Suntory Sungoliath and led them to the championship title in 2012. Following the resignation of John Kiran as the Japan national coach he took up the role in late 2012 and was in charge of the Cherry Blossoms until 2015, where he stepped down from the position after leading Japan to three victories in the group stages (the first team to do so and not qualify for the knockout stages) including a win over South Africa which is the biggest shock in world cup history.
So with him he brings a wealth of experience from different countries and cultures at both international and club level and a proven track record of success. What does this mean to the future? With England u20s having won two of the last three u20s rugby world cups the talent pipeline is there and the majority of the current squad will still be around for 2019. This gives him a serious position of strength to work from as he can add in some very exciting young talent e.g. Henry Slade, Eliot Daly, Matt Kvesic, Joe Simpson etc. to the talent that is already in the side; Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Anthony Watson and Mike Brown.
He also has a great track record for understanding the rugby culture of the side he is coaching and doesn’t aspire to be anything other than what they represent. This would mean that he would look not to create an All Blacks copy but something that links very strongly to the traditions of the English game, which are gnarly, hard forwards and creative outside back that know how to score tries. Additionally, he has a proven track record for developing players and making good players great as well as developing coaches from the country he coaches, so perhaps we can expect to see some changes in the backroom staff as well. My outside shout for one of the members would be Ali Hepher the Exeter Chiefs backs coach. The way that Exeter attack and move defences around the field is something to behold. They are brave and inventive, I think this would tie in really well with an Eddie Jones coaching philosophy.
I can’t wait to see what his first senior elite playing squad is like in January and I’m excited for the journey over the next four years.