Eddie Jones returns as Wallabies coach after Dave Rennie sacked ahead of Rugby World Cup

  • Rennie dismissed three years into tenure after poor results
  • Jones confident of leading team to success in France later this year

The Wallabies have been told to strap themselves in for the ride after Eddie Jones made a sensational return as Australia coach following the sacking of Dave Rennie just months before the Rugby World Cup begins in France.

Jones, who has been without a job since being dismissed by England at the end of last year, was given the role after Rennie’s tenure was ended with immediate effect by Rugby Australia on Monday following a string of disappointing results that saw the team slump to eighth in the world.

Jones was sacked in December despite boasting the highest win ratio of any England coach, but has not had to wait long for another opportunity to arrive, with a five-year deal signed with RA that will see him oversee the next two men’s World Cup campaigns.

In a “world-first” role structure, he will also take charge of the Wallaroos program as Rugby Australia pushes forward towards a professional future for the women’s game.

Wallabies great Tim Horan said handing Jones the reins was a risky move, but one that could pay off for RA if he was able to quickly turn around results on the field.

“Eddie Jones as new Wallabies coach ... brave and has some risk,” Horan tweeted. “But maybe a risk worth taking considering the Wallabies current win/loss ratio. We need a Bledisloe Cup within two years and RWC semi and Lions win to justify the decision. Strap yourself in for the ride.”

The Australian returns to the job he held from 2001 to 2005, during which he took his team to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final in Sydney. He said the chance to again coach his country at the global showpiece event was too good to turn down.

“It is going to be an immense period for Australian rugby – as a proud Australian, it is a great honour to be able to come home and lead the national team during these years,” Jones said.

“The Wallabies squad is a really talented group of players with good depth – if we can have everyone fit and healthy going into the World Cup this year, I am confident that we can go to France and break the 24-year drought of winning the Rugby World Cup.

“I saw how gutsy the Wallaroos were in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year – it looks like there is a real spirit in that group that will drive the women’s program forward ahead of their next World Cup in 2025.

“I am really looking forward to getting back home and getting stuck in.”

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said securing Jones’s services was a “major coup” and labelled the 62-year-old “the best coach in the world”.

“Eddie’s deep understanding of our rugby system and knowledge of our player group and pathways will lift the team to the next level,” McLennan said.

“Eddie instinctively understands the Australian way of playing rugby – this represents an opportunity to secure a coach of immense expertise and experience at the biggest competitions, and we did not want to miss it.”

Rennie paid the price for a poor run of results over the last calendar year: just five wins from 14 Test matches saw the New Zealander finish with a win percentage of 38 – the lowest of any Wallabies coach in charge of at least 30 Tests and in stark contrast to Jones’s 73% as England coach.

RA CEO Andy Marinos said he was grateful for Rennie’s work and thanked him for his services over the past three years.

“Dave has been instrumental in developing much of the depth that we see in and around the current Wallabies squad; there are a number of players that are genuine World Cup possibilities because of opportunities that Dave has provided,” Marinos said.

“The work ethic, the spirit within the group, and the way the team carries itself are all a direct result of Dave’s input – he has made a real mark on this group of players.”

Former Wallabies player Matt Giteau backed Jones to have the desired impact on the squad. “I feel for Rennie but at the same time if anyone can turn things around quickly it’s Eddie,” he tweeted. “Some of the boys won’t know what’s hit them.”

Jones will take up his role in an official capacity on 28 January, just under eight months before the start of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.


Mike Hytner

The GuardianTramp

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