Eddie Jones hasn’t wasted any time settling back in Japan, with the former Wallabies coach interviewing for the vacant Brave Blossoms role on Thursday.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Jones was one of two coaches to interview with the Japan Rugby Football Union.
The 63-year-old, who officially finished up with Rugby Australia late last month after quitting as Wallabies coach one season into a five-year deal and promptly moved to Japan, arrived at the Royal Park Hotel in Tokyo for the interview on Thursday morning, according to the report.
Jones was one of two coaches to interview for the role, with Frans Ludeke, who led Kubota Spears to a maiden League One title earlier this year, also interviewing.
JFRU president Matsato Tsuchida, who has had a relationship with Jones for decades dating back to the 1990s when Jones was a coach at Suntory, was reportedly present for the interview.
He was joined in the room by chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi.
The JFRU will likely name Jamie Joseph’s successor before the new year.
Jones, who presided over Japan’s most famous win – a boilover 34-32 win over the Springboks at the 2015 World Cup – is the strong favourite.
Last month, Jones said he was interested in the role after resigning as Wallabies coach following the World Cup.
“I’ve had no offer, let’s be clear,” Jones told the Kyodo News. “If they (Japan) came to me and said, are you interested in coaching them, I’d definitely be interested.”
He later said he had come out of the difficult 2023 season as a better coach and would be back out on a field with a whistle in his mouth by the new year.
“As long as I’ve got the energy to do it, I’ll keep doing it (coaching),” he said.
“But as you know, in terms of experience and learning, the older you get, the better the coach you are. I am a much better coach than I was this time last year.
“I’ve learned a lot from Australia. I’ve learned some things I shouldn’t have done, some things I didn’t do well and I’ll be a better coach in the next job that I do.”
The interview comes months after the Herald reported that Jones had spoken to the JFRU a fortnight out from the World Cup starting in France.
Jones, who had an exit clause in his contract that allowed him to leave the Wallabies at the end of 2023 if he wanted, stringently denied the report and any link to the role and said he was committed to the Wallabies.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about mate,” Jones said following the Wallabies’ embarrassing 40-6 loss to Wales in Lyon, which came on the same day the story surfaced.
Even after returning to Australia, Jones continued to deny any link to Japan and maintained he was focussed on leading the Wallabies into the future.
Yet, less than 24 hours after the World Cup final, Jones told RA of his intention to resign. Days later, it was official.
Right throughout the fiasco, Jones told RA chief executive Phil Waugh and then-chairman Hamish McLennan that there was “nothing to the story”.
Waugh said he took Jones at his word.
On Wednesday, Wallabies centre Lalakai Foketi said he would be “hurt” if Jones took over as Japan coach.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. If it does, it does. I think it would hurt a little bit just because of all the chat around [it] before [the Wales game],” Foketi said.
Foketi, however, said you couldn’t question Jones’ work-ethic.
“What he did for us at the World Cup and leading up to that, you can’t fault his effort and his drive and to want to make Australian rugby better,” he said.
“We really respected him and respect him. If that happens, good on him.”
Wallabies teammate Angus Bell joined Carter Gordon in recent weeks by saying he was sad to see Jones depart from Australian rugby.
“I was personally disappointed, I really liked Eddie,” Bell said.
“He got the best out of me as an individual and a player and I really enjoyed being under him and coached by him and the rest of the stuff with ‘Hats’ (Neal Hatley) as the scrum and forwards coach.
“It is disappointing seeing them go because they are quality coaches and we can see in parts there we are a great team but we weren’t able to put it together for 80 minutes at all.