The embattled Eddie Jones is reportedly set to make a shock return to Japan as the head coach, following Australia’s disappointing World Cup campaign.
The Wallabies failed to progress from the pool stage of the tournament for the first time in its history.
The Japanese sports newspaper, Sponichi, has reported that Jones is expected to take over the vacant head coach role in Japan, succeeding Jamie Joseph.
According to Sponichi, Jones had secretly interviewed with the Japan Rugby Football Union via video call just before the World Cup began. This interview took place days before Australia’s final warm-up match against the tournament hosts, France.
Jones, who is currently under contract with Rugby Australia until the 2027 World Cup, initially denied any such interview and repeatedly downplayed rumours linking him to the Japan job.
However, it appears that contact between Jones and Japan had been ongoing, and it is understood that the president of the Japan RFU, Masato Tsuchida, reached out to Jones, sparking contract negotiations for his return.
Jones, who has strong ties to Japan with a Japanese mother, previously led Japan to three victories during the 2015 World Cup.
Telegraph Sport also revealed that Jones was initially scheduled to interview for the Japanese role in early November, but this was postponed due to his commitment to coaching the Barbarians in a match against Wales in Cardiff.
Rugby Australia, the JRFU, and Jones have reportedly all declined to comment on the initial reports.
This development poses a significant challenge to Hamish McLennan, the chairman of Rugby Australia, who hired Jones just eight months before the World Cup, replacing Dave Rennie.
Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP