Eddie Jones sends World Cup warning to England ahead of Twickenham return
Eddie Jones has sounded a warning shot to former employers England that the World Cup will not be won by tactical kicking.
Jones will be back at Twickenham for the first time since being sacked by England in December after seven years at the Red Rose helm, coaching the Barbarians in Sunday’s prestige clash against the World XV.
The 63-year-old led England to the 2019 World Cup final, but then oversaw their worst set of calendar year results since 2008, with just five wins in 12 Tests.
Jones was replaced by his former assistant coach Steve Borthwick in England’s top job, with the national side facing a race against time to be ready for the autumn’s World Cup under a new regime.
England slipped to a fourth-place finish at the Six Nations in Borthwick’s first stint at the helm, and the ex-Leicester coach has admitted there is a huge amount of work ahead to prep his side for the World Cup.
Jones insisted he will not lose focus by hoping for a World Cup revenge mission given his Australia side could face England in the quarter-finals in France.
But the former Saracens coach did offer some sage advice to Borthwick and all the other Test coaches: that attacking rugby will be the only route to glory at the World Cup.
Borthwick insisted when he took over with England that he inherited a team good at nothing – and Jones has conceded the new England boss was right.
Asked for his take on Borthwick’s assessment, Jones replied: “It is true. We were trying to build a team to win the World Cup.
“I don’t believe you are going to be able to win the World Cup by just kicking. I don’t believe you can. I can be proven wrong. But I think with the grounds as they are, you are going to need to play more positive rugby.
“The conditions in France and the speed of the ruck ball will be crucial. I reckon the interesting thing watching South Africa in November is they started to play a lot more running from kick return and it opened up for their outside backs.
“I think that’s the trend of the game. You have to go quickly, you can’t just play slowly.”
Quade Cooper will line up alongside Wallabies team-mate Samu Kerevi at 10 and 12 for the Barbarians on Sunday, with Jones jumping at the chance to hand his Australia side an early World Cup leg-up.
Veteran fly-half Cooper is back fit after a torn Achilles, and has a fine chance of now making Jones’ World Cup squad. Jones was Queensland Reds coach when Cooper made his Super Rugby breakthrough in 2006, and now the 35-year-old will work under his former club boss at Test level.
We’ve got to create a new team, new style of play, a new way of belonging to a team.
“I look at Quade like Dan Carter, he is a different sort of player but just from the maturity point of view,” said Jones.
“I last coached Quade when he was a young swashbuckling, loose-as-you-can-be No10 out of high school. Now he is mature, serious, he looks after his body like it’s a temple, with a good command of how he wants to play the game. It’s going to be interesting.”
Jones jumped straight into a second stint as Australia coach after being sacked by England, returning to lead the Wallabies after steering his home nation to the 2003 World Cup final.
“I’m really looking forward to it, particularly the intensity of the time,” said Jones. “We’ve got less than five months, I think 120 days until the first game against Georgia.
“We’ve got to create a new team, new style of play, a new way of belonging to a team. We’ve got to do that quickly. And this now is an extra week’s coaching for Quade and Samu, and it’s massive for them because they haven’t played much rugby, so just seeing if they can gel as players.
“They haven’t played a lot together so it’s a really good opportunity for those two to work together. It’s exciting the backline we could have, power and pace, it’s frightening.”