Ousted Rugby Australia chair seeks ‘absolute’ truth behind Eddie Jones’ Japan links

Colin Newboult
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan shaking hands with Eddie Jones in 2023.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan shaking hands with Eddie Jones in 2023.

Hamish McLennan insists that he is determined to find out whether Eddie Jones did indeed betray Australian rugby ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

That is despite being ousted as Rugby Australia’s chairman on Sunday following another tumultuous week for the sport in the country.

McLennan resigned from RA’s board after a vote decided that he should be axed as the governing body’s chair, with former Wallabies centre Daniel Herbert taking over in the interim.

However, he now wants to know whether there was any truth in the claims that Jones held a Zoom interview with Japanese officials before the World Cup began.

“Terrible form”

“Especially when you’re leading into a World Cup, and your focus should be on the team,” McLennan told AAP.

“(But) I haven’t seen the proof. I want the absolute proof.

“I’m actually seeing him tomorrow. I’ve been promised that I’ll see the proof at some point, and it’ll come out, and I just want it to be 100 per cent confirmed that it happened in the fashion in which it was reported.

“So, yes, if he did do it, terrible form, especially when you’re coaching a national team.

“But let’s wait and see the evidence.”

McLennan had previously backed up Jones when asked about the allegations during his time as chairman of Rugby Australia.

He was willing to take the 63-year-old’s word that he did not go behind the back of the governing body, and the ex-RA boss explained why he took that position.

“He made several statements and denied it completely,” McLennan said.

“We were leading into other games within the World Cup, and he had denied it publicly on several occasions.

“So to go in and try and unsettle the coach further and ask a question where you know what the answer is going to be (would not be wise).

“Phil Waugh had spoken to him and others and he denied it, and his agent said that it was completely untrue.”

Jones remains defiant

Jones has already stated that he expects to be back in coaching soon and that the Japan job does interest him.

The 63-year-old still, however, retains the same stance over whether he did have an interview with Japanese officials prior to the global tournament.

“It’s a red herring, an absolute red herring,” Jones told The Bye Round podcast.

“Conversations go on all the time. People, agents ring you up (but) I didn’t have any … Why would I have signed for five years and taken a young squad (to the World Cup)?

“If I was going to go to somewhere else, why would I take a young squad and put myself out there?

“I could have just taken the solid players and fans love senior players.

“So if I was intending to go somewhere else, why would I take a young squad unless I’m a lunatic?

“I’m probably close to but not a fully lunatic.”

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