Eddie Jones spoke exclusively to Sky Sports News about the “pride and disappointment” he has about his time as England boss; England and Australia could meet at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France; Jones has signed deal with Wallabies until 2027 after being axed by the RFU
By Eleanor Roper and Megan Wellens
Last Updated: 17/01/23 5:04pm
Eddie Jones reflects on his time as England head coach in his first TV interview since being sacked, and says facing his former side with Australia at the Rugby World Cup would be ‘fun’
Eddie Jones says he feels both “pride and disappointment” in his time as England head coach, revealing that the 2023 Rugby World Cup is an “unfinished” job.
Jones was sacked by England Rugby in December after seven years in the role with Steve Borthwick, his former assistant with both Japan and England, replacing him at the helm.
The Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) decision to sack Jones was a controversial one just nine months out from the Rugby World Cup and, speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News in his first TV interview since leaving the role, the now Australia head coach admitted that while he is proud of his achievements, especially working with Borthwick, there will always be disappointment that he never got to see how his England side would fare at this year’s tournament in France.
“There is obviously still a tinge of disappointment that you don’t get to finish a project. We had set out post the World Cup in 2019 to have a team that could win the World Cup in 2023,” Jones told Sky Sports News’ Eleanor Roper.
“There was a difference of opinion. I felt that we were where we needed to be, but the RFU didn’t which is their prerogative so I don’t hold any recriminations against them.
Sky Sports News’ James Cole analyses Steve Borthwick’s selection decisions for his first Six Nations squad as England head coach, and a surprise move for his predecessor Eddie Jones.
“But I look back with an element of pride and disappointment. Disappointment at not finishing the job but I think I have left England Rugby in a better spot than I picked it up in and that was always the opportunity.
“The second thing I am really proud of is, part of my job was to find the next England coach and Steve Borthwick, we worked together for a fair period of time and he is an excellent choice and will do an excellent job.
“I think he will do a great job and he has potentially got a good team there.
“There is always injury and issues for the England team but I am sure he is going to do a good job.”
‘I didn’t want to hang on’ | The support from England Rugby had gone
Pressure had been mounting on Jones’ role as England head coach for a number of years, their dismal performances at the Six Nations in 2021 and 2022 prompting internal reviews.
However, for Jones, scrutiny had been growing since England’s Rugby World Cup final defeat in 2019 and while he had always wanted to take England to the World Cup this year, he didn’t want to “hang on” to his role without support.
“It probably started post-2019 World Cup. The first game of the Six Nations we get beaten and there are headlines saying ‘Jones should be sacked’,” he added.
“You are thinking ‘this is going to be a tough time’ so I always knew that was sitting there.
England head coach Steve Borthwick says Owen Farrell is a ‘fantastic leader’ and it was a ‘straightforward’ decision to keep him as captain.
“The longer you are in the job, the more exposed you are to being sacked, particularly at that level.
“When you are not meeting the expectations, firstly of yourself and the team, then not meeting the expectations of the fans and the Union, you know there is going to be problems.
“The wind changes a little bit the way people look at you. When you have been in the game for a while you start to realise that we are probably getting closer to being (sacked) than we would like to be.
“I didn’t want to hang on. I either wanted to do the job with their support or not do the job.
“Obviously the support had gone so in the end it was a good decision for both.”
No ‘affection’ for administrators | Facing England at RWC would be ‘fun’
After being appointed as Australia head coach, Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald that he would blank England’s administrators if the sides met at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
However, speaking to Sky Sports News, he insisted he doesn’t hold a grudge and facing his former side would be a “fun” prospect.
“I don’t hold any grudges but I don’t hold any affection either,” Jones said.
“I have got great affection for the players but you move on and there wouldn’t be too many administrators in the world I have great affection for.
“It will be a bit like coaching England against Australia. I have got a lot of respect for English rugby and I have got a lot of respect for the players.
“The saddest thing about being sacked was it means, in a lot of ways, the end of your relationship with the players.
“That is the difficult part but in a World Cup quarter or semi or whatever it is, it is going to be fun.”
James Cole says the omissions of Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Jonny May is evidence of Steve Borthwick looking to put his stamp on the England squad.
Memories to treasure: Jones’ pride in Australia Tour
Although Jones’ time with England is over, he still remembers many moments with fondness, especially the series win against Australia in 2016.
Jones had taken over England after a dismal home World Cup, in which they failed to exit the group stage, to lead them to a Grand Slam win followed by a series-whitewash victory in Australia.
“The game that always sticks in my head the most is the third Test on the first tour to Australia,” added Jones.
“We had already won the series 2-0 and they were a good team Australia, they have just made the World Cup final in 2015.
“We really played with a lot of toughness and a lot of pride and to win that series 3-0 was incredible, especially on the back of the Grand Slam.
“Players can become contented because a Grand Slam only happens for England, I think, every 13 years so to come out of the World Cup not making the play-offs then to win the Grand Slam and go to Australia and win 3-0 is a pretty incredible effort.”