Eddie Jones: Former England boss unsure if he will be coaching at the Rugby World Cup but is in no rush to make a decision

Eddie Jones says that he will take time to decide on what he will do next after he was sacked as England’s head coach nine months out from the Rugby World Cup. 

Jones opened up in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, where he said that it is unlikely he will coach at next year’s Rugby World Cup. He also defended his coaching methods and commented on a potential return to the Wallabies set-up. 

The Australian is not short of options on what to do next, with the 62-year-old reportedly fielding offers from Japan, US, Georgia and Australia at Test level with other offers in the NRL and Top 14. 

Coaching at Rugby World Cup 2023

Jones’s plan to lead England to World Cup glory has fallen flat, and now he thinks that the chances of him coaching at the tournament in France next year are slim, while he delved into the toll of being England’s coach took on him.

“Coaching at the next World Cup will be difficult,” he told the SMH.

“It probably has struck me that the last three years has taken a fair bit out of me. Three, four days after I got sacked, we had to take the dog for a rabies shot – now we have to try to get her out of the country – and I went down to the local shopping centre, and I realised I probably haven’t been there for two and a half years.

“It was pretty all-encompassing the last three years, so I think I’ll take a bit of a breath now. If someone comes forward and the offer’s too good to refuse, then I’ll look at it, but I think it’s getting too close to the starting point of the World Cup, so I’m not too bothered one way or another.”

A return to the Wallabies on the cards?

In his final year in charge of England, Jones won just five of his 12 matches for a win rate of 42 per cent. Meanwhile, Dave Rennie led the Wallabies to just five victories out of 14 Tests, a win rate of 36 per cent for the year.

Jones coached the Wallabies between 2001 and 2005 and is reportedly in line to replace Dave Rennie after the World Cup, as the current head coach survived the axe until then. 

When asked about a return to Australia, Jones said he is interested in anything where he “can add value”.

“That would be my starting point: whether I can add value and whether they can win. They’re the two things I’m looking at,” he said.

When specifically asked about taking the top job with the Wallabies again, Jones referenced former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

“I don’t think I’m equipped to handle that question, but [a statement that] resonates with me is when they asked Arsene Wenger whether he’d coach England,” he said.

“Firstly, he said, ‘No, I’m too young’ – when he was in his 50s – and secondly, he said, ‘I’d never coach a national team because I never control the development of talent coming through’.

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“Coaching at the international level is for experienced coaches because everything’s put into a small period of time, and you have to try to get everything right in a small period of time, so experience helps there. Having made mistakes and learning from mistakes, you understand what to do – and it’s not to say you won’t make other mistakes.

“Secondly, you’ve got to look at … is the country set up to maximise the development of the talent coming through? People talk about England having advantages because they’ve got a big player pool, but a big player pool doesn’t give you advantages. What gives you advantages is a lot of good players.

“Ireland probably have 32 really good players, and they haven’t got much outside of that, but as long as they don’t have a bad injury run – and they don’t have a bad injury run because they’ve got fantastic [strength and conditioning staff], fantastic medical [staff], fantastic collaboration between their national team and their provincial teams. It’s not perfect; if you talk to [former Brumbies and Connacht coach] Andy Friend, he’ll tell you it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to maximise the talent that they’ve got.”

Jones defends his methods

The pressure that Jones has put on his assistant coaches and the demand to match or better his work ethic has come under scrutiny, particularly in England. 

He has also been scrutinised about his demands on players, particularly with training sessions. 

While he admitted that there was some validity in the criticism, he believed it was exaggerated and was a narrative that was easy to sell. 

 “There’s some validity in all of that [criticism]. It’s not for everyone. I can guarantee you it’s not for everyone,” Jones said. 

“Having said that, I think there’s a track record that suggests that maybe some of that is exaggeration, and some of it goes with a nice narrative for people to sell. 

“You’re in a national gig for seven years, and at the end of it, you’ve only got players saying good things. I haven’t heard any of the current players come out and say, ‘Shit we’re glad he’s gone’. 

“There’s no reason for them to say nice things now because I’m not going to have any effect on their career.

“There’s the fact that I coached Japan for four years, England for seven years; that’s 11 years in international coaching. If your methods are so bad, you’re not going to do that.

Finally, Jones conceded that he could be too hard on people but pondered whether he softened too much during his time in England. 

“Let’s be completely honest about it; I can be too hard on people. But I’m less like that now,” he added.

“One of the things I do question is whether I was too soft in England, particularly in the last two or three years, whether I didn’t put the hammer [down] enough.”