Joe Schmidt takes a light-hearted dig at Eddie Jones over Japan links

Colin Newboult
Joe Schmidt new Wallabies coach 2024 - Alamy.jpg

New Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt.

A few days into his job as Wallabies head coach, Joe Schmidt was offered an open goal and duly took it as he joked about Eddie Jones’ Japan controversy.

The former Ireland head coach officially took over on March 1, just a few months after his predecessor’s resignation.

Jones departed following the Rugby World Cup, citing issues within Rugby Australia for his decision, before returning to Japan and taking up a role there.

Treacherous Jones

The 63-year-old was accused of treachery by some fans after it was reported that the ex-England boss had held a Zoom interview with the Japan Rugby Football Union just a few days prior to the global tournament.

He consistently denied that it took place before finally admitting to a Zoom call upon his unveiling as the Brave Blossoms’ boss.

However, Jones insisted it was not a job interview and that it was simply a meeting with a recruitment agency to aid the JRFU with their search for Jamie Joseph’s successor.

That description has not convinced the Wallabies supporters, especially when he was announced as Japan’s head coach.

Fortunately for Australia, they have managed to find an outstanding replacement in the form of Schmidt and, in his first interview since officially taking charge, it started with a couple of light-hearted questions.

During the entertaining Kick Offs and Kick Ons podcast, presenter James Rochford asked: “First question, three days into the job, have you fixed Australian rugby yet?” Schmidt took a brief pause before going “no.”

Former Wallabies great Drew Mitchell then chimed in, asking: “Second question, have you signed a contract with Japan?”

That teed the ex-All Blacks coach up perfectly, who, referring to Jones’ constant denials, quipped: “I haven’t had a meeting with them,” much to the amusement of Matt Giteau, who said: “We’ve heard that before haven’t we?”, and the supporters in attendance.

A big job

After a disastrous 2023, Schmidt has a significant challenge on his hands to make the Wallabies competitive against the best in the world.

Under Jones, they exited the World Cup at the pool stages for the first time ever and won just two games – against Georgia and Portugal – during his second stint in charge.

The 58-year-old has signed a deal until the end of the 2025 British and Irish Lions series and will open his tenure with a double-header against Wales before a one-off Test with Georgia.

Then comes the Rugby Championship, starting with two home games against South Africa before encounters against Argentina and New Zealand.

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