In Depth

Eddie Jones: conflict ahead as English rugby takes a gamble

The experienced Australian coach is not in England to win friends, but is he the right man for the job?

The English rugby team has its first foreign coach after Australian Eddie Jones was handed the role. The 55-year-old former Australia and Japan coach has signed a four year contract at Twickenham, and his first game in charge will be against Scotland at Murrayfield next year.

Most observers have welcomed the appointment, but there are question marks over how much freedom Jones will be given in the role, and that could prove crucial.

"It is understood Jones will have free rein when it comes to choosing his coaching team, with a number of Englishmen in the frame," reports The Guardian. The paper names forwards specialists Alex Sanderson and Steve Borthwick as candidates and Shaun Edwards and Paul Gustard as possible defence coaches.

However, appointing Jones means "the job is only half done" according to Austin Healey in the Daily Telegraph. He says the Australian should be given complete control of team affairs.

"The RFU needs to leave the rugby to him," he says. "At least four of the Under-20 side are likely to be in the 2019 World Cup squad. Eddie should be given licence to develop them how he sees fit. He may pull out a young openside and say I want this guy to play in a different position. He should have that control if we want to be successful."

But there will be battles ahead over England's relationships with clubs and the policy of not selecting players who are based overseas.

Jones will want control of his players, and that includes when they are at their clubs, and he will also want to be able to pick whoever he chooses, says Owen Slot of The Times. Those demands will lead to confrontation, he says.

"The Eddie Jones years will be neither calm nor quiet," he writes. "When Jones crashes against the walls of England's rugby establishment — and this is an inevitability — then the battle will be fierce."

Do not expect the Australian to back down either. "He is not in England to win friends, he is here to win the World Cup."

But England must ensure they benefit from his tenure, says Dean Ryan in the Guardian.

Jones will make changes but he must also leave a legacy. "We should be looking at using his skills to put English rugby into a strong position, and that will involve getting an English coach ready to take over... English rugby needs to use Jones, not allow him to use us."

Whatever happens his regime will be different to the one that went before, and the appointment of Jones is another example of English sport's penchant for the "flip flop", says Tom Fordyce of the BBC. The tendency for England is to "go for the polar opposite of whoever was deemed to have last failed in the job".

In football Roy Hodgson was the antithesis of Fabio Capello, in cricket Trevor Bayliss is very different to his predecessor Peter Moores. Now Jones has replaced loyal company man Stuart Lancaster at Twickenham.

"He has taken the Wallabies to one World Cup final and helped the Springboks win the next in 2007. Whether he is the right man for England is less clear," warns Fordyce.

"Choosing the coach is the easy bit. Changing the system he operates in so that it produces more world-class players capable of playing with same skill-set as world champions New Zealand is arguably more important but also a lot more difficult," he adds.

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