Rugby Australia boss Hamish McLennan has admitted he was aware of Eddie Jones and his standing offer from Japan Rugby ahead of the World Cup. The Wallabies were embarrassed in their loss to Wales having been all but eliminated from the World Cup at the group state for the first time in history.
Ahead of the game, reports alleged Jones held a meeting with Japan Rugby right before the World Cup. When the reports were put to him after the brutal 40-6 loss, Jones was fuming.
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“I take umbrage to people questioning my commitment to the Australia job," Jones said. “My coaching hasn’t been good enough. I don’t need to worry about the future; just the Portuguese game. I have a contract, and at the end of the World Cup my performance will be reviewed, and at the minute it’s not good enough."
Jones' broken team still have one more game against Portugal in its final pool game in St Etienne on Monday (Aussie time), bringing an end to the worst World Cup campaign in the Wallabies' storied history.
And McLennan confirmed in a press conference Jones did have a standing offer from Japan Rugby, which he was aware of ahead of the World Cup. “I understand Eddie has a standing offer from Japan and they respect his many outstanding coaching achievements,” McLennan said.
“I accept his word to (Rugby Australia chief executive) Phil Waugh there is nothing in it. His agent also said the same thing to me.”
McLennan also admitted in the interview he has no desire to leave his role and wants to continue in the build-up to the next Rugby World Cup in Australia. “I feel very accountable,” McLennan said. “In fact (the loss to Wales was) one of the worst days in my professional life, but we must seize the opportunity to fix the system once and for all.
“The pathway is clear if the rugby community wants to get behind it. I need everyone’s help. “I’m not inclined to (quit) as we have some significant opportunities we are close to landing and I want to maximise the opportunities with the men’s and women’s World Cup in ‘27 and ‘29."
Wallabies captain Will Skelton backed his coach and said the team have full trust in him going forward. "That's something that has been knocked on the head - Eddie has denied it so we have full trust in him," Skelton told reporters in Lyon on Monday.
"I heard the press conference (after the Wales match) and I trust him in what he says. He's a man of his word and he has the full support of the group."
Wallabies sink to new low at Rugby World Cup
Their loss to Wales sent them down one place to 10th, with Argentina now higher on the rankings than Australia. The Pumas are coached by former Wallabies boss Michael Cheika, who was in charge of Australia at the last World Cup in 2019. Cheika quit his post immediately after the Wallabies suffered a 40-16 thrashing in the quarter-finals against England - ironically coached by Jones at the time.
Argentina picked up 1.72 rankings points after their 19-10 win over Samoa, and Australia lost two-and-a-half points in their heavy defeat to Wales. The teams have swapped rankings as a result, with the Wallabies in 10th spot for the first time since the rankings were introduced.
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