As Rugby Australia hires Eddie Jones to assume the head coach role ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, they’ve said “goodbye Dave” to departing coach, Dave Rennie.
Rennie has been replaced, within sight of the impending tournament in France. Yet his replacement himself has just been replaced. So is it “out with the new, in with the old?” – as Jones has already been head coach of Australia [2001-2005]. In a way, it is. Although all the positive words from Rugby Australia are shaded in the way Jones was summarily sacked only mere weeks ago.
Supporting today’s announcement, RA (Rugby Australia) chairman Hamish McLennan stated; “It is a major coup for Australian Rugby to have the best coach in the world return home to coach the iconic Wallabies and to oversee the Wallaroos program*.
“Eddie’s deep understanding of our Rugby system and knowledge of our player group and pathways will lift the team to the next level.”
Rugby Australia hires Eddie Jones ahead of RWC2023
Now as Rugby Australia hires Eddie Jones, some observers presumed that it was predisposed; once the England Rugby contract was terminated. If so, many might wonder if Dave Rennie might be aggrieved to take his case for compensation further. Earlier this month he shot down ideas he could work with Jones, which could have been a sign that it was “Rennie alone, or not”. And the media release from RA showed that the former coach is preferred over the current direction.
Rennie has coached Australia since 2020, and the media release explained he ‘had achieved some notable victories with the Wallabies, including series victories against France and South Africa in 2021. RA thanks him for his service to the Wallabies and for the positive steps that have been taken under his watch, and wishes him well in his future endeavours’.
Yet it seemed plainly obvious to most that a 38% winning record was simply not good enough for the two-time World Champions.
From January 29, Rugby Australia and Eddie Jones’ paths are intertwined until the 2027 tournament planned for Queensland. Possibly that is a fortuitous relationship – Jones did lead the side to the 2003 final versus England. In fact, he has appeared in multiple pinnable tournaments, claiming the 2007 title as an assistant with the Springboks.
Quinto mundial consecutivo para Eddie Jones. Los Wallabies y la RWC Francia 2023 es su próximo desafío. 🏉 pic.twitter.com/FYVInvLMm8
— Sebastian E. Perasso (@rugbydidactico) January 16, 2023
Sacked last month, the attraction of Jones’ coaching resume must have been an offer ‘too good to let go’ for CEO Andy Marino. A figure who has no inclination or national loyalty to Rennie. And the board has spoken, in quick time. Snapping up Jones. Yet for the last seven years, the career path of the former ACT Brumbies coach has been leading the ‘old enemy’ England. Could it be a knee-jerk reaction, or a masterstroke?
McLennan was quoted saying; “Eddie instinctively understands the Australian way of playing Rugby – this [new contract] represents an opportunity to secure a coach of immense expertise and experience at the biggest competitions, and we did not want to miss it.”
Masterstroke of securing Eddie Jones ‘in-between roles’ or mistake?
Jones himself said “It is a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to come home to Australia and lead my nation to a Rugby World Cup. 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.”
The timing for him might be seen as opportunistic; if you don’t read his sacking by England as a vote of no confidence. So is it a strategic decision? Or a misled call from a desperate Wallabies administration? That will only be known at the end of October, and from the beginning of Super Rugby Pacific the new Director of Rugby will appraise his wider group’s abilities.
“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.”
Yeah, I think it's a matter of sacrificing an uninspiring year of Rennie where we only meet expectations (to be fair due to the draw that'd be Semi's); for 5 years of Eddie Jones.
I do wonder if EJ will pick a squad with more of an eye on 2027 given his 5 year contract.
— Jason Sherman (@Jasonsherwood) January 16, 2023
From now on though, speculation and debate (see above tweet) surround this new Rugby Australia Eddie Jones appointment and specifically, the dumping of Dave Rennie still sticks out. The two-time Super Rugby winning coach was brought in with a goal of the 2023 World Cup, yet is pushed aside for a familiar figure.
How well Eddie Jones can fair with such limited preparation, is anyone’s idea. Some would say ‘near impossible’ although, Wayne Smith resurrecting the Black Ferns in about the same amount of time, would inspire a man like Eddie. The same man that famously inspired the Brighton dream. The head coach that taunted the All Blacks prior to a successful RWC2019 semi-final fixture.
Yes, he might have slid over the line to secure a new role, fresh from being disgarded himself by England. Yet the persona of Eddie Jones means that grin will be as wide as ever, as he changes allegiance back to Green & Gold ahead of both the 2023 and 2027 events. Landing on his feet as ever.
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