Every Aussie rugby fan will have an opinion on the shock sacking of Dave Rennie and the impending homecoming of Eddie Jones.
Opinions are like ugly children. You tend to love your own more than anyone else’s.
RA’s rugby committee – CEO Andy Marinos, and former Wallabies Dan Herbert and Phil Waugh – along with chairman Hamish McLennan, have made a huge call. The biggest decision in Australian rugby in the last 20 years. They know, as we all do, Eddie Jones comes with baggage.
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Firstly, the nay-sayers will point to Eddie’s time with the Queensland Reds in 2007. It was a disaster. But who isn’t a different person now than they were 16 years ago – professionally and personally?
The detractors will say, look at the way he eats up and spits out assistant coaches. Clearly he’s a hell of a task master. He drives hard. Eddie’s way or the highway. None of that sounds bad to me.
Some of the baggage Eddie comes with is good baggage. After he left the Reds in ’07 he helped guide South Africa to a World Cup victory.
In 2015 he helped engineer the biggest upset in rugby history when Japan beat South Africa in Brighton. You could even say he helped build the foundation for Japan’s first World Cup quarter-final appearance at their home tournament in 2019.
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Jones was with England by then. They beat New Zealand in the semis and should have beaten South Africa in the final.
Throw in three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam, and some of that looks like pretty good baggage.
There’s unfinished business here in Australia. That World Cup final in Sydney when Jonny Wilkinson’s right foot broke Australian hearts. Eddie’s been a part of some rugby fairy tales before but imagine leading Australia to a win over England in the 2027 World Cup final on home soil. You couldn’t top that.
But back to the here and now.
Australia hasn’t won a Bledisloe since 2002 or a World Cup since 1999. And the reasons for that? Let’s not go down that rabbit hole. We can agree it’s more than just the coach. But to give this country the best opportunity RA has done what it is tasked to do. It’s nabbed the best man for the job.
Eddie Jones is an agent of change. In recent years, everywhere he’s gone he’s made teams better.
Hamish McLennan had a choice to be proactive or reactive. When Eddie Jones became available it wasn’t really a choice at all.
I feel for Dave Rennie. He is a good man and a good coach. He has been a joy to deal with and cares deeply for his players and the game. Forget winning percentages, the legacy he leaves is the Wallabies’ culture. Eddie Jones has a responsibility to preserve and build on that culture.
How much rope will RA give Eddie? Will he have a chairman of selectors for example?
I’ll also be fascinated to see the impact he has on the Wallaroos program.
There’ll be differing opinions about Eddie Jones. Only time will tell who’s right and who’s wrong. One thing is for certain.
As fans and supporters of the game, we’re in for a wild ride. It won’t be all hugs and bum taps. Eddie can be difficult and abrasive but no other Aussie has the ability to put the game in the headlines and up in lights like Eddie Jones.
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