Jones to quit Japan coach role after World Cup

Japan's rugby national team head coach Eddie Jones at a friendly match against a World XV team in Tokyo on Aug 15, 2015.
Japan's rugby national team head coach Eddie Jones at a friendly match against a World XV team in Tokyo on Aug 15, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO • Japan coach Eddie Jones will step down after the Rugby World Cup to take on a "different challenge", the Japan Rugby Football Union announced yesterday.

The organisation said the Australian, who has been the Brave Blossoms' coach since 2012, will resign on Nov 1. His contract was due to expire this year.

The decision was approved by the group's board of directors.

Jones will also quit as the director of rugby at Japan's new Super Rugby side, which are set to host three of their home matches at the Singapore Sports Hub in next year's debut season.

A new coach will be chosen after the World Cup which starts next month, when Japan will accelerate their preparations to host the tournament in 2019.

"I believe the Japan team will further evolve towards the 2019 World Cup with an excellent coach," the 55-year-old Jones said.

"I will be taking on a different challenge but the Japan team will always remain in my heart. I want to make this year's World Cup a completion of my job as head coach."

Last week, reports said Jones had agreed to a two-year deal starting in 2016 with South Africa's Western Stormers, and that he had acknowledged talks with the team.

JRFU general secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto said it was Jones who approached his organisation about the resignation. "We've made a great deal of progress under Eddie Jones. We've beaten strong nations and showed Japan's true value in doing so," he told Kyodo.

"We had the overture from the head coach and accepted it as he was resolute in his decision."

Jones took over from All Blacks legend John Kirwan in April 2012.

He earlier guided Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, which they lost to England.

Jones, who is half-Japanese, also served as adviser to South Africa when they bagged the World Cup in 2007.

Last year, the Brave Blossoms broke into the world's top 10 after 10 straight wins culminating in victory over Six Nations side Italy.

At next month's World Cup in England, Japan will be aiming to improve on a poor record at the tournament where their only win so far was against Zimbabwe in 1991. Their aim is to reach the quarter-finals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'Jones to quit Japan coach role after World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe