Eddie Jones’s consultations with the Bulls will yield little value.
Jones, currently the director of rugby at Premiership club Saracens, consulted with the Bulls prior to the Super 14 season but his impact was non-existent when judging by the standard of their performances.
Last Friday keo.co.za reported that the Australian would join the Bulls again this week for a number of consultation sessions with the coaching staff and players. Desperate supporters will be hoping Jones will be their side’s saviour. That won’t be the case.
His role with the Springboks, where his impact was patent, can’t be compared to his work with the Bulls, and it would be unfair to expect the same results. Jones spent 10 weeks with the Springboks and will spend three days with the Bulls (he started consulting with the coaches on Monday), with only one of those (Wednesday) with the players in an on-field session.
The Bulls will argue that the technical knowledge Jones will impart will be invaluable to the coaching staff and players. Surely one on-field session and a couple of sessions with the coaches serve little purpose? What structural changes can he make when assisting head coach Frans Ludeke to assess the campaign to date? Even then, how good are structures without their architect to oversee their outworking to tweak errors and reinforce strengths within those structures?
That question is answered by the fact that the Bulls have a two from eight record in the 2008 Super 14 despite utilising the same structures that won them the title in 2007. The difference? The absence of former head coach Heyneke Meyer.
The ideal would have been for Jones to spend three or four weeks, minimum, with the franchise. That way he could have poured his energy into doing one-on-ones with the coaches and players, and he would have had the opportunity to oversee the implementation of his plans. However, Jones’s work with Saracens makes that impossible.
He is also thought to be here reluctantly, but was obliged to make the trip because of the pressure investment group SAIL (who own a 50% share in the Bulls and have shares in Saracens) were exerting – not the ideal circumstances considering that the Bulls are relying heavily on him to help determine exactly what’s going wrong.
Here’s the other issue – the Bulls will do well in their next four matches at Loftus because they have done so for the last three years and not because of Jones’s influence. In 2005 they won six from six after their tour, in 2006 two from three and in 2007 four from four. So before we start lauding Jones in the next couple of weeks for his dramatic impact, consider the facts.
By Ryan Vrede