Australian rugby vowed to rebuild on Tuesday after the “bitterly disappointing” reign of Eddie Jones, who has officially quit as Wallabies coach following their calamitous World Cup campaign.
Once a powerhouse of international rugby, Australia are in tatters after Jones announced his resignation 10 months into a five-year contract.
Rugby Australia can confirm that it has accepted the resignation of Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones, and he will depart the position on 25 November.
We thank Eddie for his commitment to the Wallabies in 2023, and wish him the best in his future endeavours. pic.twitter.com/CJEaktccdf
— Rugby Australia (@RugbyAU) October 30, 2023
The Wallabies under Jones slid to ninth in the world rankings, suffered their worst World Cup ever and won just two of their last nine games.
Rugby Australia on Tuesday accepted the 63-year-old’s resignation as head coach and chief executive Phil Waugh said it was time to win back the fans.
“We’ve got a lot of ground to make up and we all know that we’ve let down people and we need to rebuild that trust,” Waugh, who previously played under Jones, told reporters.
“It has been bitterly disappointing.”
— Wallabies (@wallabies) October 30, 2023
The 63-year-old Jones will officially leave his post on November 25 but Waugh said they will not be in a rush to appoint his successor.
Local media have linked former Wallabies pivot Stephen Larkham to the job, as well as his compatriot Dan McKellar, who is currently in charge of English side Leicester.
“I think everyone is a candidate,” said Waugh, adding that outgoing All Blacks boss Ian Foster would be considered if he put his hand up.
“We’re open to getting the right coach for our system,” he added.
Jones only recently said that he was committed to Australian rugby despite overseeing their World Cup flop, denying rumours that he was about to jump ship to take over at Japan.
The feisty Australian has now walked away after failing to secure backing for what he believed were much-needed reforms.
Jones was hailed as the saviour of Australian rugby when he came in as Wallabies coach in January, returning to a side he coached to the World Cup final in 2003.
He was given a five-year contract despite having been sacked after leading England to their worst season in more than 10 years.
“Where we ended up is clearly not good enough,” Waugh said.
“It’s a decision we have to live with.”
The Wallabies World Cup rapidly unravelled as Jones favoured rookies over trusted veterans, while appointing a revolving door of novice captains.
Jones raised eyebrows before the tournament began when he left long-time skipper Michael Hooper out of the squad, while also discarding experienced playmakers Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley.
He would later defend the decision, saying the respected trio were not “the right role models” for a team looking to build a winning culture.
Waugh, who played 79 Tests in a decorated Wallabies career, said those comments were “absolutely unfair”.
Australia have two years to prepare for the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 and will host the men’s World Cup two years after that.
After years of financial decline, Rugby Australia is banking on a much-needed cash injection from those two events and can ill-afford to turn off fans with poor performances on the field.
“We are financially challenged,” Waugh conceded.
“I don’t think it’s a quick fix.”
Jones, a pugnacious former club rugby front rower, is currently in the UK as co-coach of invitation side the Barbarians, preparing them to face Wales this weekend.
He has repeatedly denied a return to coaching Japan, where he has warm relationships with key rugby powerbrokers.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Karen Watson / RUGBY AUSTRALIA / AFP.