Eddie Jones urges Australian rugby to follow Springboks’ example

Colin Newboult
Rassie Erasmus and Eddie Jones chat before the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

Rassie Erasmus and Eddie Jones chat before the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

Eddie Jones has given his thoughts on how Australian rugby can improve going forward, with the sport in the country currently in a perilous position.

Rugby union is arguably at its lowest ebb in Australia after they went out of the Rugby World Cup at the pool stage.

Jones has since resigned from his role as the Wallabies’ head coach, citing issues within Rugby Australia as the reason for his departure.

The 63-year-old claimed that he gave 100 per cent commitment to the role, but that it wasn’t reciprocated by others.

Adapt and overcome

Having now left his position, he believes that South Africa is the model the Australian governing body should look at.

Despite the financial constraints placed on SA Rugby due to the lack of power of the Rand, and the subsequent departure of their top talent, they have adapted.

The Springboks have managed to integrate their players, who are featuring for various different clubs and franchises around the world, and make them a coherent unit at international level.

Their home teams have also remained competitive by continually bringing through and developing young talent.

“I think everyone agrees there needs to be change, but at the moment, the totality of Australian rugby can’t find a way to make change,” Jones told The Australian.

“I give you an example of South Africa, in 2015, they get beaten by Japan. So they are rock bottom.

“They know they have a lot to change because the system they’ve got isn’t working. So what they do is they encourage their players to play overseas.

“They rejig their provinces at home, and then they move their whole domestic competition to the northern hemisphere, and what’s happened is that they’ve won two World Cups since.

“Australia is a small but great rugby country, we’ve won two World Cups. To think that we can keep doing what we’re doing and that we’ve only got the coaches to blame for it, it’s just foolhardiness.

“I think everyone understands that, but at the moment, there’s not a political way forward, and there’s not a financial way to get forward.”

Slamming Super Rugby

Jones was also critical of Super Rugby, which has seen several changes over the years but not necessarily for the better.

After expansion was tried, with it getting up to 18 teams at one stage, it has been cut down dramatically.

The South African sides departed following the Covid pandemic and have since aligned themselves with the northern hemisphere, leaving New Zealand and Australia.

Two Pacific Island franchises, Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua, have been added, but interest in the competition has declined, with the Australian sides particularly struggling to attract supporters to their games.

“Domestic rugby in Australia needs to be entertaining because people only watch it if it is entertaining,” he added.

“If you go back to Super Rugby, Super 12s, it was the best against the best … and a lot of my mates who are mostly rugby league guys used to watch Super Rugby, but they don’t watch it now.”

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