SYDNEY – Australia head coach Eddie Jones on Tuesday ruled out a rumoured switch to Japan, pledging to stick with the Wallabies following a disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign.
“I’m staying, mate. I’ve always been committed to Australian rugby and I want to leave it in a better place,” Jones told a press conference in Sydney amid speculation of his imminent resignation.
Although the pugnacious 63-year-old said he has unfinished business with Australian rugby, he could not guarantee he would see out the rest of his four-year contract.
“That’s not my decision,” he replied when asked if he would still be in charge for the 2027 World Cup, which Australia will host.
“I don’t control those sorts of things, all I do is coach. We’ve got a review going forward and we’ll see what happens at the end of the review.”
As the faltering Australian side stumbled through its tournament pool games in France, reports emerged that Jones had been secretly interviewing for the head coach role in Japan.
Jones has warm relationships with key powerbrokers at the top of Japanese rugby, having previously coached the Brave Blossoms between 2012 and 2015.
“I haven’t been speaking to anyone, mate,” Jones assured reporters on Tuesday.
“Where the rumours come from? I don’t know mate, you’ll have to tell me.”
Jones also defended his decision to stack the World Cup squad with a band of unproven rookies, leaving a host of veterans at home including 125-Test former skipper Michael Hooper.
“The results from the World Cup weren’t what we hoped, but I still think I’ve made the right decision,” he said.
“Everyone has got their own judgement, haven’t they? My choice was to go with youth and I stand by that.”
Jones defended the team’s performances, saying his one regret was telling reporters to “give themselves an uppercut” during a testy press conference at Sydney Airport before jetting off for France.
“I need to give myself an uppercut,” a smiling Jones said on Tuesday.
Part of Jones’s long-term pitch has been the need to blood new talent ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025, and the home World Cup two years after that.
‘People love drama’
After years of financial decline, Australian rugby is banking on a much-needed cash injection from those two marquee events — and can ill afford to continue alienating crowds with lacklustre performances.
“I think I’ve left the Australian team in a great position to go on to 2027,” Jones said.
“I didn’t come back to Australia to have a holiday — to sit down at Coogee Beach and have some fish and chips and a nice flat white,” he added.
“It was always going to be a battle.”
Once dubbed the “Walking Headline”, Jones said it was no surprise his recent travails had whipped up a media frenzy in Australia.
“People love to see controversy over a coach,” he said.
“Either a player getting drunk, misbehaving, or the coach getting the sack.
“That creates headlines and people love that sort of drama.”
Jones was hailed as the saviour of Australian rugby when he returned to the national setup earlier this year, replacing New Zealander Dave Rennie after a string of bad results.
Fresh from inking a lucrative four-year contract, he predicted the Wallabies could win the World Cup this year through a special “smash and grab” raid on rugby’s greatest prize.
Instead the side were bundled out in pool play — their worst result at the tournament — and have now slumped to seven losses during Jones’s nine games in charge.