Eddie Jones: New England Coach Needs Control Of His Players
Eddie Jones is very clear about the biggest task facing Stuart Lancaster’s successor as England coach: it is all about control of the players’ contracts.
The former Saracens director of rugby told ESPN — speaking at his unveiling as the Stormers’ new coach last Thursday — he feels the RFU needs a centralised system similar to that found in Wales and Ireland to produce a competitive and vibrant team.
“How can you manage your players when they are controlled by other organisations?” Jones asked. “In my opinion, that is the single greatest task ahead of whoever is going to be appointed as the next England coach.”
Jones observed the host nation’s spectacular failure in the group stage of the World Cup as a rival coach to Lancaster.
England crashed out as he led Japan to relative success with three pool victories — including a landmark win against South Africa — but that is not the extent of his international experience, having also guided his native Australia to the World Cup final 12 years ago.
Such a background has led him to be persistently linked with the England job and one bookmaker on Monday claimed there had been a “huge plunge” of bets placed on him taking over from Lancaster.
Several British newspapers on Tuesday made Jones the front runner. Jake White has also been the subject of speculation but reports suggesteda deal for Jones with the RFU was possible despite him having just started a two-year deal in Cape Town with Stormers, the Super Rugby franchise.
However, Jones has made his commitment to his new job clear, and effectively ruled himself out of the running.
Speaking before talk of his England chances reached fever pitch, Jones did so again, but his view of the nation’s biggest problem, as well his take on the best way to approach a new coaching job, the game’s north-south divide and the quality of the Six Nations make fascinating reading.
“Wales, Ireland and Scotland — unlike England, Italy and France — all have centralised contracting systems,” he said. “The union controls the players. As a consequence, they produced competitive teams and vibrant performances at the recent World Cup.”
Jones added: “Everywhere in the world, I believe a nation wants its own home-grown coaches but you can see there is a trend developing.
“Countries are increasingly looking for the best coaches irrespective of nationality because they require the optimum results.”
Without reference to England, Jones laid out the coaching philosophy he has developed based on his extensive experience. He said: “There are two elements that make successful teams — talent and cohesion.
“An effective coach or manager harnesses talent and cohesion by having a set team culture and getting the team to understand the playing style he requires from them.
“Whenever you take over a team you have to set yourself clear goals and then you have to understand the process in order to attain those goals.
“While others won’t understand the process, you have to back yourself and follow through with your outlined objectives. You have to accept criticism and keep working.”
Jones claimed the balance of power in world rugby is firmly in the southern hemisphere’s favour because, ultimately, of the quality of rugby they play and mindset they possess.
He conceded weather northern conditions encouraged teams to adopt a more conservative game strategy but claimed there were other explanations.
“If we look at the World Cup, the difference between the northern and southern hemisphere countries, skill was one important aspect, the other big factor was the latter’s ability to get back in the game.
“In that regard, there is massive difference between the two hemispheres. The oval game is all about getting numbers on your feet because then you have options and can play from that point.
“The best example is to compare and contrast Italy and Argentina. Italy have been part of the Six Nations for 16 years and their rugby has basically regressed,” the former Brumbies boss said.
“Whereas, Argentina have featured in the Rugby Championship for four years and their game — in particular their ability and execution on attack — has grown exponentially.”
“The Six Nations is a dour affair and is built on the foundation of not allowing the opposition to score points,” he continued. “On the flipside, the Rugby Championship is all about scoring more points than the opposition.”