Jones to revive England as first foreign coach

Eddie Jones won the plaudits of millions of fans after Japan upset South Africa in their Rugby World Cup opener and went on to win two more group games but failed to make the knockout stage.
Eddie Jones won the plaudits of millions of fans after Japan upset South Africa in their Rugby World Cup opener and went on to win two more group games but failed to make the knockout stage. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Eddie Jones has been announced as England's first overseas rugby head coach, after signing a four-year contract to succeed Stuart Lancaster.

The former Australia and Japan coach had travelled to London for talks with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and, with the level of compensation for his release from his contract with South African provincial side Stormers believed to have been negotiated, the Australian's four-year contract was completed yesterday.

"The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world's most high-profile international rugby job doesn't come along every day," said Jones, who will take up his England post next month.

"I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity.

"I'm now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game. I believe the future is bright for England."

Lancaster stood down on Nov 11 after England became the first host nation to be knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage.

When RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said he wanted a coach of "proven international experience" to replace Lancaster, Jones was immediately linked with the vacancy, although several other high-profile coaches - including current Australia boss Michael Cheika and New Zealand assistant Wayne Smith - soon ruled themselves out of the running.

Jones was Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney and four years later was a member of South Africa's back-room staff when they became world champions.

This year saw him oversee Japan's impressive performance at the World Cup, which included a shock win over South Africa - the biggest upset in the tournament's history. The 55-year-old's CV also includes a spell in charge of English Premiership side Saracens.

Jones was expected to coach the new Japanese Super Rugby team Sunwolves, who are co-based in Singapore and will play three matches at the National Stadium next year, before he opted to join the Stormers at the end of the World Cup.

It is understood he will have free rein when it comes to choosing his coaching team, with a number of Englishmen in the frame.

He will be a fascinating man at the helm of England's ship, largely because he will have fixed views as to the way in which he decides to steer it.

His appointment was not universally welcomed, however, with former Wallaby winger David Campese claiming rugby "did not need any more school teachers".

The Australian told Radio 5live: "His teams will play in a very structured way and they will do what he tells them to do. So it's a robotic style."

Jones will be in charge when England open their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield on Feb 6.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Jones to revive England as first foreign coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe