The doomed second coming of Eddie Jones as Wallabies coach lasted just 287 days.
He celebrated his arrival, announced on January 15, with a burst of 4am push ups and sit ups, saying he wanted to be the the fittest 63-year-old coach in the world.
Jones departs as a bitter quitter – not fit for the job that he’s treated with disdain and dishonour since the World Cup “smash and grab” ended in crash and burn.
Make that two jobs. When Jones arrived he made a song and dance about embracing his other role as coaching director for the Wallaroos and a mentor to their coach Jay Tregonning.
Jones never stepped foot on a training field with the team – and as they roared to a fabulous win on Saturday, Jones was at home in Sydney spinning furiously in an effort to make the truth of this brazen betrayal of Australian rugby show him in a good light.
No one will be buying it. No one in Australian rugby will ever feel they can trust him again.
On the field the Wallabies were a shambles – despite Jones assertation that they weren’t – a poorly selected, poorly prepared, poorly led shambles. There were seven defeats and two wins – those against Portugal and Georgia – and enough hot air to carry a balloon around the world several times.
Here’s how the Eddie apocalpyse unfolded, on his own words.
“I’m very excited about taking over the team. I was up at 4am this morning doing push-ups and sit-ups. I want to be the fittest 63-year-old coach in the world. It’s the greatest honour and privilege. The only thing I can promise you is I will give it 100 per cent to get Australian rugby back in the position we want to be in.”
“We want to play with a certain panache. We want to play tough so at the end of tight games, you win those tight games. That’s the traditional Australian digger spirit. Where can we take the team? We’ve got to win the World Cup. Our plan is to win the World Cup.
“If we win the World Cup it changes things for rugby in Australia. So our target is to win the World Cup then we’ll worry about what happens after that.”
“What I do know is that our players don’t lack talent. If you did a World XV today on talent you’d have a fair few Australian players in there. You’ve just got to look potentially at the backline Australia could have, potentially. And you’re thinking ‘yeah, is there a better backline in the world now?’”
“I don’t think it really matters what people paint of you, because the only thing that matters is my relationship with the players. And I’m sure they don’t read the garbage that’s written by these blokes, if they do they’re not smart enough to play for the Wallabies.”
“I’m not the messiah. Everyone’s in this together but sometimes you just need someone to beat the drum to get people walking faster and maybe that’s the role at the moment. Heading forward, it’s going to be about everyone working together. We need everyone to do it, including the media, we need you guys to beat the drum.”
“I think he’s working on the factory line at Hino isn’t he? I think he’s making those trucks, because he’s not playing rugby at the moment. To get selected you have to play rugby, we don’t pick blokes who make Hino trucks.” – on not selecting Rory Arnold for his first Wallabies camp.
“I’ve got a number of people I take advice from, some of the most learned people in Australian rugby have been using their eyes and their wisdom to help support views that I may or may not have. It’s not a one man dictatorship.”
“Contradiction is a big part of selection. You’re always trying to find players you feel can be world class. That’s the ultimate task – to find players who can be world class. And I’ve seen [Suli] Vulivalu play for Melbourne Storm. I’ve seen him play in NRL. I’ve seen bits and pieces of his play for Australia A, and bits and pieces of what he’s done for Queensland. There’s a lot of gaps in his game at the moment. But our job as coaches is to help him fill the gaps. If you’ve got a cattle prod at training get it out, it might help him!”
April 16: Wallabies camp
“One thing you do as a coach is never hope. Hope’s not a good emotion. We want the players to leave this camp feeling that they want to be a part of it. They want to be a part of this smash and grab mission and they’ll do everything they can to be a part of it. They’ve got to be prepared to sacrifice something and they’ve got to be prepared to bring things to the table. At the end, I want every player to sign up – ‘yeah, we’re in. We’re in. I want to spend the next five months now and do everything I can to be the best player I can be.’”
May 31: Evening Standard podcast
“I’m only coaching to this World Cup. I’ve signed, but as I’ve made the mistake before, I’ve stayed too long. So we win the World Cup it will be time to go. If we lose the World Cup it will be time to go.”
“I am here for five years. But my only concentration is this Rugby World Cup, so I don’t think past that.”
June 25: Names Michael Hooper and James Slipper as co-captains
“The combination of Slips and Hoops together gives us a very strong apex to the leadership. I think the character and style between Hoops and Slips, and you don’t get two more experienced players in the world of Test rugby, so that’s a big advantage for us.
“Hoops this week at Coogee has been absolutely outstanding. We put the players in some difficult situations. We played 15 versus 13, 13 verse 15, and the teams had to work it out on the run what they were going to do, and Hoops just showed the experience that he’s had as a captain and therefore the two of them together was a powerful force for us. Like it’s a winning edge for us.”
June 26: Talking about adding more NRL recruits
“We’ve got about three or four that are ready to sign. Big names. [Code wars] adds to the competitive tension. If you open the Daily Telegraph in in Sydney, you’ve got to go to the last page and even the last page now it’s probably got lawn bowls on it instead of rugby. So we need to get rugby back competing as a winter sport. And by signing a guy like [Joseph] Suaalii and if we signed two or three others that will help.”
July 8: First match back, a loss to South Africa in Pretoria
“We got beaten to the punch everywhere. We got beaten in the set piece, at the gain line and in the air. If you don’t win any of those contests, it’s going to be a long day in the office which it was. If we fix those against Argentina, we’ll be back in the money.”
“You don’t have to be a smartarse, mate. You should have more respect mate. I never said that mate. I said we always want to play the best. Show some respect.” – Jones to a reporter after comments about South Africa fielding a “weakened” team.
July 15: A loss to Argentina in Sydney
“Whilst it seems like it’s doom and gloom at the moment, beating inside here is a fair bit of optimism that we’ll be able to change fairly quickly in the next couple of weeks. If I was the All Blacks, I’d look out.”
“We’re a bit like a broken car,” he said.
“My first car was a Datsun 1200. You’d fix the handbrake and the next day the windscreen wipers would break, and we’re a bit like that moment.”
July 22: Defends sticking by Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi after injuries
“Anyone who’s coming back from a long term injury needs time. That’s the most obvious and the most sensible way to look at any player and particularly from serious injuries like Achilles tendon and ACL, they need time to train, they need time to get feeling of the game back, their timing of the game back. “I’ve got no doubt they’ll be at the best for the World Cup.”
July 27: Talking about his Bledisloe return
“There’s nothing better than winning against New Zealand because you feel the country sinking, right? t’s not just rugby sinks, the country sinks. The whole economy goes down. The Prime Minister is there with his fingers crossed, hoping the All Blacks win, because he knows the economy is going to drop if they lose. So we can have that effect.”
July 29: Bledisloe Cup defeat to New Zealand
“The experts have written us off. No one believes we can do it, but we believe. The coaches believe, the players believe and that’s all that matters. Where’s there’s life there’s hope. I’ve coached teams like this before and you can turn it around.”
“I saw enough today to know that we can be bloody good team. You’re sitting there thinking shit what’s his bloke talking about? But I’m telling you boys, we can turn it around and be a very good team. So for the fans, they got to keep being hopeful. Keep praying, whatever God they’ve got, keep praying to them that we turn it around. We will.”
August 2: Defending Carter Gordon ahead of the second Bledisloe defeat
“Firstly, I don’t think I got it wrong, mate. In fact, I’m going to get it right, and the player will get it right. To say that as a young No 10 in his first game [as a starter], ‘you’ve got it wrong in selecting him’ is just a load of rubbish mate. So anyone who asks that question doesn’t know anything about rugby. If you know anything about rugby you know that No 10s need time in the seat. If you don’t know anything about rugby then don’t talk to me.”
August 17: Discussing Quade Cooper’s World Cup omission
“I think he’s very upset mate. I don’t know why you’re going back to that. That’s probably reflective of Australian rugby. We’ve got to move on to a World Cup with a great young squad and you’re still talking about players we haven’t selected. We’ve tried to ring him, that’s all I can do. I’m disappointed the players are upset but all I can do is ring. If they don’t take your phone call you can’t talk to them.”
August 17: Eddie’s airport meltdown
“None of you guys think we can do any good. So that’s all right. The challenge for us as a group is to show you that we can, and show ourselves that we can. I can feel this negativity. I’ve got to wash myself off.”“
“We’ve got a young squad here. They’re going to make some waves at France. Worst press conference I’ve ever had in World Rugby. Worst press conference. Well done boys. That is the worst I’ve ever seen. You ought to give yourself upper cuts, fair dinkum.””
September 1: Another shot at NZ
“World Rugby gets criticised a lot. If the water is not hot enough in the showers they get criticised, if the referee has the wrong pants on they get criticised, but they’ve done a great job and bringing those countries through. Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. It’s not good for New Zealand is it? Because they’re losing their three biggest academies.”
September 7: Talks up the Wallabies ahead of the World Cup
“I never would have dreamt coming to press conference as a coach of Australia saying we’ve got a huge pack that could dominate the World Cup – and we have and we intend to use that to our advantage. We’ve got a really big, strong, fast pack that’s ready to take on the opposition and that starts with Georgia.
“It’s our best team. It’s 20 years since Australia’s picked a young team like this, and it shows a changing of the guard. This is a new team that wants to take Australian rugby forward. We want to play a game that enthuses people in Australia to want to follow the Wallabies again. We’ve dropped down the rankings and followings in Australia in the national sports team and we want to we want to be a team that everyone in Australia admires, respects, they want to watch play.”
September 17: Eddie bristles at reporters, pundits after Fiji loss
“I thought you didn’t like me mate, why are you following me around?” Eddie said to English reporter Owen Slot. Slot said he thought they had a “great relationship”. “Well, I beg to differ on that,” Jones replied.
After the loss to Fiji, Jones asked Slot if he “wanted to have a bit of a dig mate?” The reporter declined to which Jones replied: “It’s always good to kick a dead body, mate.”
“When you’re a television commentator you’re always right. Maybe I need to be a television commentator then I’ll be right all the time. We’ve gone with a young team. I’ve got no regrets at all.” – on Sonny Bill Williams’ criticism after Fiji loss.
“I’m a bit used to it mate, and after that I probably deserve more. They should probably be throwing baguettes or croissants at me. It’s not good enough. I deserve whatever I get.” – On being booed by fans in St Etienne:
September 23: The Wales defeat that left Eddie on edge and angry about links to Japan job
“I really take umbrage at the questioning that people are questioning my commitment to coaching Australia. I really take umbrage at it. ’ve been working nonstop since I’ve come in. And I apologise for the results. I keep saying that. But questioning my commitment to the job I think is a bit red hot.”
“I came back to Australia to try to help, at the moment I’m not giving much help, am I? But that doesn’t mean my commitment to help them has changed. I’m a proud Australian, I hate to see Australian rugby do as poorly as we’ve been doing, particularly under my reign.”
“Whilst it looks at the moment like a shambles, I can guarantee you it’s not.”
September 28: On his commitment to his contract
“I am 100 per cent committed to the job and I’ve said that previously. “Someone has a story and they are running with it. The only thing I can say is I’m committed to coach Australia. And there’s the other side of the coin that Australian Rugby who make the decision after this World Cup, whether they want to keep me or not, and that’s up to them.”
“Whatever goes on, I’ve come back to help Australian rugby. So if I become an issue, then I’ll have to go. I’m pretty even-tempered about it. I’ve just got to keep doing what I think is right. That’s the only motivation I’ve got. I want to leave Australian rugby in a better place whenever I leave. That’s the job I’ve got to do and I want to do and I feel strongly about and I believe in.”
“This is something I knew would take need a lot of work. I’m putting down some foundations that are going to help Australia in the future. And I’m prepared to pay the price of any personal hardship. If there needs to be a fall-guy for the World Cup then it’s obviously me. When you become a head coach of a team, you take on that responsibility.”
October 6: Eddie’s last interview in France
I’m not worried about my career mate. It’s more about are we moving to a better position? And I think we are. The scoreboard doesn’t say that but I think we are and I’m sure most of the players would agree with that. Maybe not all of them, but I’m sure a majority of players would agree with that and that’s all we can do. So therefore I can not sit back comfortably and say I’ve done as good as I could – but I don’t feel any personal distress about it.”
“You need to shop at David Jones and you still need to shop at Woolworths. You need to do both because if you always shop at David Jones you run out of money pretty quickly, right?” – on if RA needed more NRL recruits.
October 16: The Coogee homecoming press conference
“I didn’t come back to Australia to have a holiday – sit down at Coogee Beach, eat fish and chips, have a nice flat white. It was always going to be a battle. When you’ve got a team that hasn’t done well for a long period of time, it’s always a battle.”
“100 percent. That’s the intention, mate, but as you know, we play in a game where the coach doesn’t decide how long they stay.” Asked if he still had the passion to coach the Wallabies.
“I’m staying. I’ve always been committed to Australian rugby, want to leave it in a better place and that’s still the job.”
“My commitment is to put Australia in a better place, and you’ve got to have things operating to put it in a better place, and part of it is making sure we get better alignment. I’ve got to help drive that with the CEO and the chairman.”
“I think I’ve got the foresight to see where we need to go. I’ve got the experience of being in difficult situations before.”
“This is not an unusual situation. You’ve got a team that was struggling for a period of time, you’ve got underneath it a system that’s not supporting it and at some stage you bottom out. This is the opportunity now to change the team- as we’ve started with picking younger players with bright futures – and then we’ve got to look at the development system underneath as well.”
“It’s not a simple equation that the Wallabies are bad. 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. And if we can do that now we’ve got a rosy future.”
October 27: He finally talks about why he left Cooper and Hooper and Bernard Foley at home
“The situation reminded me of when Wayne Bennett let Wally Lewis go. No one could quite understand why, but Wally Lewis wasn’t a great role model for the rest of the team. And for those guys, I don’t think they were the right role models for the team going forward. Don’t get me wrong. They’re not bad guys. But you need guys – particularly when you’ve got a team like Australia has at the moment – you need guys who are obsessed with winning, obsessed with being good, and those three are past those stages.”
“I knew the Wallabies weren’t good enough. So I used the first two Tests to work out the status of the squad, and then I had to make a decision, right? And I gambled, mate, I 100 per cent gambled, and the actual difference between what we maybe could have done with a more established team and what we did do is so minimal. Now, it’s been blown out to be massive. And obviously it is, not making the quarter-finals, but the difference came down to one play in one game, against Fiji. So I don’t look back and say, “Shit, I wish I would have done this, I wish I wouldn’t have done that.” My only regret is maybe being foolish enough to take on the challenge of trying to change the team in such a short period of time.”
October 29: The end game.
“No money, no strategy. The changes we agreed cannot be done as we planned so I don’t believe I can make the difference we need.” – That’s why he quit.
“I’d like to coach one more team, one more cycle.”
“Sometimes you have to eat shit for others to eat caviar further down the track.”