Australian rugby needs a high performance director, according to head coach Eddie Jones, but the 63-year-old on Friday ruled himself out as a potential solution to the problem.
Rugby in Australia is in the doldrums following a disastrous World Cup campaign that has seen them suffer a record loss to Wales, lose to Fiji for the first time in 69 years and in which they look certain to miss out on the knock-out stages for the first time.
The sport is in a crisis, both on an organisational level and on the pitch, with Jones coming under heavy fire for his team’s performances, not just at the World Cup in France, but since he took over in January.
Australia have managed just two wins in nine Tests since Jones returned to the helm and both of those were against Tier II nations.
It is a dire situation four years out from Australia hosting the 2027 World Cup.
And one thing Jones believes the Australian federation needs to get right, is to appoint a high performance director.
“There’s a need for someone to be looking after tomorrow. That’s really important,” he said.
“You know, the national coach looks after today and there’s a need for someone to be strategic about planning what’s needed for Australian rugby to be sustainably successful.
“And that’s where you need a high-performance director.
“What role he has with the national team is something that needs to be discussed. But someone absolutely responsible for what’s happening tomorrow is vital.”
Whoever that person is, it will not be Jones, even if he leaves the head coach role at the end of the World Cup.
“No. I’m not an administrator. I love the game, I don’t love politics,” said Jones.
“I am not a politician. I never have been, never will be.”
Rugby Australia is due to conduct a review into Jones’s stewardship in November and although he says he is 100 percent committed to the job, there have been rumours that he will either quit or be fired come then.
Reports in Australian media have also linked Jones with a return to the head coach job in Japan, something else he has stringently denied.
“There will be some sort of Rugby Australia review in November, I believe, so at the end of that will be the opportunity to start moving forward,” said Jones.
“I’ve signed a contract and I will do the review and then it’s up to others to decide.
“I just stand by the fact that I take full responsibility, I feel like I’ve given the team the opportunity to get better and, as I’ve repeatedly said, the results don’t show that but I think we are.”
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Karen Watson / RUGBY AUSTRALIA