LONDON, November 21- Outspoken Australian Eddie Jones has already masterminded the biggest shock in Rugby World Cup history and now he has taken on a monumental task in trying to revive England.
Jones, 55, was a tenacious hooker who never made the Wallaby side. But he has come into his element as one of the most respected coaches of the past two decades.
He guided Australia to the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney where England’s Jonny Wilkinson sent over a last minute drop kick to break Australian hearts.
Jones went on to become an advisor to the South African side that won the 2007 World Cup. His work was widely praised but he was never allowed to wear the Springbok green blazer as he is not South African.
Though born in Tasmania, Jones’s mother is a Japanese-American and it was with Japan’s Brave Blossoms that he recorded his biggest success so far.
Japan started their World Cup with a stunning 34-32 pool win over South Africa. Japan won a penalty that could have seen them kick points for a draw but captain Michael Leitch went against Jones’ preferred option and forged ahead for a try. The rest is World Cup history.
“I tried to get the message down to take the kick at goal,” Jones said in a Daily Mail column afterwards.
“Luckily by the time the message got to the players the decision to kick for touch had already been taken. I thought to myself ‘fair enough here we go,” he added.
“When Karne Hesketh crossed for the injury time try it was the most emotional I have been since coaching the Wallabies to a semi-final win over the All Blacks at the 2003 World Cup.”
“When we got down to pitch level it seemed as if everyone was crying. I’ve never seen more grown men in tears.”
— Early riser —
But Jones is a tough coach who bases a lot of his work on the appliance of science. He turned Japan into bulldog-fit competitors for the World Cup where they won three games but still did not make the quarter-finals.
Under the Jones regime, the Japanese players began their punishing daily training at 5:00 am in a bid to get a jump on their rivals.
His scientific training methods aimed to wring every last drop of energy from his players as part of his giant-killing masterplan. Jones instilled a sense of self-belief in Japan, underlined by a run of 10 successive wins last year that saw them break into the world’s top 10 for the first time.
Jones — who suffered a stroke in 2013 halfway through his Japan stay — also cut back on the number of foreign players.
He has little tolerance for squad members who do not embrace the Jones way. And that could be one of many challenges in England, one of the wealthiest rugby nations where the team has been stricken by divisions.
He said during the World Cup that England had lost the “bulldog spirit” that marked their 2003 World Cup win.
He has criticised the setup in England where players are under contract to clubs, not the Rugby Football Union calling it the “single greatest task ahead of whoever is going to be appointed as the next England coach.”
In an interview with the ESPN scrum.com website, Jones also hit out at Europe’s Six Nations tournament compared to the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.
“The Six Nations is a dour affair and is built on the foundation of not allowing the opposition to score points, he said.
“On the flipside, the Rugby Championship is all about scoring more points than the opposition.”
Jones now has to turn the team of the Red Rose into Brave Blossoms in time for the 2019 World Cup — back in Japan.