Wallaby Coach Eddie Jones Says He’s Committed to Australian Rugby, No Plans to Head to Japan

AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
Australia’s Richard Arnold celebrates with his teammates scoring a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Portugal at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard in Saint-Etienne, France, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.

SYDNEY (AP) — Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones says he is “committed to Australia” amid numerous reports that he is planning to quit and take up the Japan rugby job for a second time.

Jones said he plans to hold a media conference on Monday.

Jones arrived in Sydney on Thursday night following a poor Rugby World Cup campaign in France in which the two-time champion Wallabies failed to qualify for the quarterfinals for the first time in the tournament’s 36-year history.

The 63-year-old Jones was asked by a 7News television reporter at the airport whether he was heading to Japan.

“No comment, mate,” Jones replied. “I’ll speak to the media on Monday. But I’m committed to Australia.”

Jones said he has had “no discussion” with Japanese officials despite a Sydney Morning Herald report on Sept. 25 that he had interviewed for the coaching role vacated by Jamie Joseph.

Japanese media have reported that Jones is the frontrunner to take over from Joseph. Jones denied the reports and Rugby Australia said the organization took Jones at his word.

“Oh well, I can’t control that mate,” Jones said of the reports when asked at the airport on Thursday.

Jones coached Japan from 2012-15 and helped lead the team to an upset World Cup victory over South Africa in Brighton, England.

Rugby Australia gave its full backing as recently as last week to Jones, who was contracted to the end of the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

He was criticized before leaving for France after picking a young squad — 25 of the 33-man squad were going to their first Rugby World Cup — and carrying injured players but leaving out veterans including Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper.

He insisted the Wallabies could win the Rugby World Cup even after losing to Fiji for the first time in 69 years. But then a 40-6 loss to Wales — Australia’s heaviest defeat ever in a Rugby World Cup — put them on the brink of elimination.

Portugal’s one-point win over Fiji in the of the group-stage games finally ended Australia’s slim chances of progressing to the quarterfinals. Fiji advanced behind Wales on points difference.