Eddie Jones will be the Boks technical director at the World Cup, writes Keo in the Independent Newspapers.
Springbok coach Jake White has pulled off a potential masterstroke – and put Australian noses out of joint in the build-up to the World Cup.
Former Wallabies coach Jones is set to replace Rassie Erasmus as the Springboks’ Technical Director in Jake White’s most emphatic statement of intent that every avenue will be explored to give South Africa an edge at the World Cup.
SA Rugby Pty Ltd Managing Director Jonathan Stones confirmed to The Independent on Saturday that he had agreed in principle to White’s request to involve Jones on a short-term World Cup contract.
The details of the contract would be discussed on Monday and Stones would explain his decision to the Board.
“In principle I support the coach and think it is a fantastic opportunity. I need to make sure the numbers add up and the next step in the process is to ensure they do and motivate my decision to the board,” said Stones.
The arrangement would see Jones in the next three months alternate between Paris (with the Boks) and London where he is to take up a four-year contract as Saracens Director of Coaching.
Australian CEO John O’Neill earlier in the week attacked Jones’s decision to link up with the Boks on a one-week consultancy.
You don’t need a crystal ball to know what his reaction will be to a three-month involvement.
O’Neill also questioned Jones’s ethics because of his recent involvement with Australian rugby.
Jones responded by calling O’Neill a hypocrite and reminded O’Neill he had left rugby for soccer in the year of the soccer World Cup, vowed never to return to Australian rugby and on the eve of the rugby World Cup had agreed to again head up Australian rugby.
Jones, who coached the Wallabies between 2001 and 2005, said he was a professional coach and rejected accusations he is betraying Australian rugby.
White told The Independent on Saturday he rated Jones as the world rugby’s best technical analyst and he spoke glowingly of Jones’s contribution to the Boks in the last week. He also challenged O’Neill’s comments regarding Jones’s integrity.
“Eddie’s one of the most passionate guys I’ve met when it comes to rugby. He is also one of the most principled.
“Sure he can give us insight into his observations on any country and player and no one has a more intimate knowledge on Gregan and Larkham’s technical game than Eddie, but that’s not why I want him involved.
“I want Eddie here and in Paris because of the perspective he gives us.
“This is about what he can do for the Boks and not what he can do in a possible World Cup Test against Australia,” said White, who was forced to reconsider his options after Erasmus was appointed Stormers coach last week.
“I had to think fast and this opportunity presented itself. Eddie showed an interest to be involved for the World Cup and I share that interest,” said White.
Jones, should there be no unexpected curveball, will become the fifth Australian to work with the Boks in the last five years.
Former Bok coach Harry Viljoen appointed Tim Lane as his backline coach in 2001, while Less Kiss and Frank Ponissi (defensive coaches) and Mike Byrne (kicking and skills coach) also contributed to the Viljoen era. Ponissi and Lane were also a part of Rudolf Straeuli’s management team at some stage between 2002 and 2003.
Byrne has been with the All Blacks for the last four years.
“Having outside influence in our rugby is nothing new,” said White. “It can only be good for our campaign.”
Stones agreed, saying professionalism demanded investing in the best options available.
South Africa’s two premier Super rugby teams, the Bulls and Sharks, both benefited from Australian input this year, with Australian backs coach Todd Louden adding an attacking edge to the Bulls and New Zealander John Plumtree influential in the Sharks resurgence.
White, in encouraging Jones to align himself with the Boks, has shown the kind of innovation usually associated with Australian sports coaches.
If Australian coach John Connolly had lured Nick Mallett, as an example, to consult with the Australians it would have been sold to the media as a stroke of genius. For once Australia is on the receiving end and to add insult to O’Neill it is ‘Sideshow Bob’ who has stolen a yard on the Wallabies.
Jones’s technical knowledge of Australian rugby is unrivalled and he has intimate knowledge of the All Blacks, having plotted their demise at the 2003 World Cup.