Can Eddie Jones Save English Rugby?

AUSTRALIAN-RAISED coach Eddie Jones has been appointed the new head coach of the English International Rugby Union squad, and quite frankly, most fans cannot wait to see what he has to offer.

Jones certainly has an impressive curriculum vitae when it comes to coaching rugby teams to success. Coaching the once underdog Brumbies to an historic Super 12 victory in 200, Jones was soon fast-tracked to the role of Australia head coach, and he soon led them to a World Cup final in 2003 – where, I’m sure you readers will not need reminding, they were beaten by Sir Clive Woodward’s England. After this, his numerous other achievements include being assistant coach to a World Cup-winning South African side in 2007 (regrettably beating England in the final), and of course coaching Japan in their breathtaking and unexpectedly competitive run in this year’s Rugby World Cup.

So, in terms of past success Jones appears to be the perfect man for the job. Certainly he has contributed to enough to English heartache, to warrant him a shot at winning us some silverware. However, Jones does not come without his fair share of controversy, especially when it comes to England. Jones has not exactly been shy about his criticism of English rugby in the past and in doing so he has certainly upset the English rugby establishment at times. Now Jones will need the full support of the RFU in order to achieve what he needs to, by the end of his ‘four-year turnaround’. More so than that, he will need sovereignty over coaches throughout the Premiership. This control over the coaches in England will no doubt be integral to Jones’ ambitions to shake up the RFU and do what needs to be done in order to ensure that England are a successful, competitive international side. Additionally, Jones has been rather honest about his desire for a new captain and possibly a new open-side flanker altogether – thereby potentially offending Chris Robshaw, whom many consider to be a hero of the English game.

With all of this controversy surrounding the coach, and the additional fact that it has been 12 years since he was head coach of a truly world-class side, can we still be optimistic about Eddie Jones’ stint as the head of English rugby? The answer, quite simply is yes, but cautiously so. Whilst it is easy to be swept up in the excitement of a new coach (especially one as charismatic as Jones), one cannot deny the potential for success. The coach knows what he is doing and certainly talks a good game. The new head coach has expressed that England should no longer feel the need to copy the All-Blacks, but should be confident and assured in their own style of play; this is a style of play which will be based around a ‘strong attack’ in Jones’ words. He is also aware that, since he is only here for four years, his job is in equal parts about establishing a framework for the future of English rugby, as it is about garnering immediate success. There is in fact much to be excited about here.

Eddie Jones then is not a straightforward character. He will rock the established order and he will challenge pre-existing ideologies that permeate the RFU. However, after the recent failure under Lancaster’s regime, this controversial and charismatic change of pace might just be exactly what England need.

James Candler

Featured image: The Independent  


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