Eddie Jones’ long-awaited sacking has sparked mixed reactions across the board from experienced heads in world rugby.
On Tuesday night (AEDT), it was finally announced that the England Rugby Football Union had “dismissed” Jones.
His departure had long been forecast, with stories emerging on Monday that Jones’ bosses were ready to go for the jugular.
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Only an hour before his axing, former Wallabies captain Matt Giteau foreshadowed his countryman’s impending doom.
Giteau’s assessment was terse, summing up a sentiment shared by many in the industry that sacking Jones too close to the 2023 Rugby World Cup would be foolhardy.
“If Eddie Jones gets sacked it would have to be the silliest thing they could do to the English rugby team,” he wrote on Twitter.
“He plans and plans and plans years in advance for this competition. It’s the one competition that he has got consistently right time and time again. Big mistake imo [in my opinion].”
There are those, however, who say his tenure won’t be fondly remembered.
That’s despite Jones leaving with the highest winning percentage for any England coach, which included winning three Six Nations Championships and one Grand Slam.
In the 81 matches at the helm, Jones took England to 59 wins, 20 losses, and two draws – a 73 percent win record all told.
England did lose a Rugby World Cup under his reign but was the first to get them to a final since 2007 – in both instances, England lost to South Africa.
Sir Clive Woodward, who coached England between 1997 and 2004, offered a scathing view of Jones’ tenure, lashing the Australian for taking his eye off the ball.
“I’m always sorry to see people lose their job but Eddie Jones has been badly distracted since the last World Cup and he’s paid the price,” Woodward wrote for the Daily Mail.
“He’s a much better coach than he has shown over the past three years. He is a shadow of the Jones I competed with and whose first years with England were so successful and rightfully applauded.
“What will Jones’s legacy be? The semi-final victory over New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup was his best performance but unfortunately, he will be remembered for the misguided rhetoric and unfulfilled promises.
“I don’t think history will remember this period of English rugby too kindly.”
Woodward scorched Jones for allowing the “media, former players, writing books and everything else” to distract him from winning what was immediately in front of him.
“He became completely focused on the 2023 World Cup and that was a costly error,” Woodward continued.
“International rugby is very simple: focus everything on the next game with absolutely zero distractions. The fans who pump the money into the sport didn’t buy his hype.”
Perhaps the most vocal lot has been the fans who were left booing after England drew with the All Blacks in their penultimate spring tour Test.
There were calls for Jones to mend that relationship – though the writing, it seemed, was on the wall for a long time.
Media ace David Pembroke, who worked with Jones for a long time, labeled England Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney as “slippery” and made accusations of leaking stories. Now, Jones is gone.
England reportedly already has its sights on a new coach in the form of Steve Borthwick from Leicester Tigers.
With a pay-out to Jones and a buy-out of Borthwick, it’s a costly exercise for English rugby tallying close to $2.2 million.
Whatever the case may be, it’s a short lead-up to the Rugby World Cup comprising just nine Tests.
England will face Argentina in their first Rugby World Cup match on September 9 next year.
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