Eddie Jones Says He’s Committed to Australian Rugby, and Again Denies Interviewing for Japan Job

AP Photo/Rick Rycroft
Australian Rugby’s head coach Eddie Jones, right, prepares to speak to media in Sydney, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.

SYDNEY (AP) — Hoping to draw a line under a tumultuous month, Eddie Jones has denied he interviewed for the Japan coaching job and reiterated his intention is to lead Australia to the 2027 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Australia’s earliest exit ever at a Rugby World Cup, criticism over squad selection and speculation that Jones was preparing to leave after just eight months tainted the Wallabies’ campaign in France.

Jones held a news conference Tuesday at Coogee Oval, in Sydney’s eastern beaches, to confirm he was “100%” committed to the Wallabies and reject speculation of a return to Japan.

“I haven’t been speaking to anyone, mate,” he said in response to repeated questions about the Japan coaching position. “I’ve said that before.”

The 63-year-old Jones said he believed he still had the support of Rugby Australia despite the recent turmoil.

“But we’ve got to do a review. The results were disappointing and everybody is gutted by it — especially myself,” Jones said. “But I stand by the decisions we have made and I think we have left Australian rugby in a better position.”

Jones, who guided Australia to the World Cup final in 2003 in his first stint at Wallabies’ head coach, was hired in January after losing the England job following a run of poor results.

England has rallied and qualified for the semifinals in France. Australia didn’t make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in 10 editions of the global tournament and has a 2-7 win-loss record in 2023.

Jones’ decision to cut experienced veterans in key positions in favor of yourng or emerging players was heavily criticized. But he said it would benefit the Wallabies in future.

“I love working with young players,” he said. “I loved seeing some of the young players maturing during the World Cup. There are a number of players there who are at the start of their international career.

“Most of them showed during the World Cup that they have enough to really go forward and be very good players for Australia.”

Jones said the development system in Australia needed an overhaul.

“Let’s be serious about this. The Wallabies are not where they need to be, but underneath that, we need to fix the system to go forward,” he said. “If we can do that now, we’ve got a rosy future.”