Eddie Jones has second Japan interview while ex-Springboks coach also in the running – report

Colin Newboult
New Japan head coach Eddie Jones.

Former Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones.

Former Wallabies boss Eddie Jones has moved a step closer to returning to the role of Japan head coach following his second interview.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Jones, who coached the Brave Blossoms between 2012 and 2015, has once again met with Japanese officials, which was this time held in-person.

It reportedly took place at the Royal Park Hotel in Tokyo on Thursday as the 63-year-old spoke to Japan Rugby Union president Masato Tsuchida and CEO Kensuke Iwabuchi.

Previous Zoom call

Jones allegedly held talks with Japan over Zoom on August 25 ahead of Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign, although he has consistently denied this.

The story was first reported before the Wallabies’ crunch clash with Wales in the World Cup, which they lost 40-6.

That defeat would effectively end their campaign at the global tournament as they exited at the pool stages for the first time ever.

The head coach would then depart following the conclusion of the World Cup, citing issues within Rugby Australia for his exit 10 months into a five-year contract.

Jones is now hoping to take the role with the Brave Blossoms and lead them into the 2027 tournament, which is being held in Australia.

He is not guaranteed to get the position, however, with experienced South African coach Frans Ludeke in the running to get the top job.

Ludeke, who is currently at the Kubota Spears and took the Bulls to successive Super Rugby titles in 2009 and 2010, was also interviewed on Thursday.

The 55-year-old doesn’t have too much international experience but spent a brief time as an assistant to Harry Viljoen at the Springboks in 2000 and helped Fiji out at the 2015 World Cup.

Wallabies’ views

Two Wallabies players, Lalakai Foketi and Angus Bell, recently fronted the media and were asked about Jones and his Japan links.

The centre admitted that it would “hurt” should the 63-year-old become the Brave Blossoms’ boss, but that he did not lack drive while in charge of Australia.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think it would hurt a little bit just because of all the chat around [it] before [the Wales game],” Foketi told reporters.

“You can’t fault his effort and his drive and want to make Australian rugby better. So we really respected him and respect him.

“So I guess if that (Japan job) happens then good on him.”

Bell, meanwhile, stated that he was sad to see Jones depart after being one of the few players to blossom under his guidance.

“I was personally disappointed, I really liked Eddie,” the prop 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 staff 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.”

Affect their World Cup chances?

Bell was also asked whether the reports surrounding Jones’ future played a part in their heavy defeat to Wales at the World Cup.

“Not really,” he responded. “Again, there’s plenty of media, there’s always articles that are released that aren’t positive or have a negative impact on people.

“I guess we had bigger fish to fry in the competition … so, no, I don’t think it affected us at all. We knew Eddie was committed with how much he was doing behind the scenes and what he was doing for the group.

“He did everything that he possibly could have done for the group and tried to get us forward.”

READ MORE: More bad news for Australia as star winger’s code switch confirmed