Japan already knew The Seven Samurai. A medieval story of a village plagued by rapine and men recruited to defend it. So much for the classic Kurosawa (1954) and the heritage of cinema. But at the time of modern rugby, place to fifteen samurai. Or to thirty-one, if we include the substitutes and reservists of the England team.
The scenario, this time: imagine the country that invented rugby; Imagine organizing the previous World Cup in 2015 and being kicked out in the first round; and now, far from his lands, in Japan, imagine him wanting to avenge this unprecedented affront to win a second title, after that of 2003.
Adapt to everything
Such could be summarized in the story of the XV of the Rose. And that of Eddie Jones, named right after the disaster. Already four years that the coach of England is working on the screenplay. Saturday, November 2, in Yokohama, the English will play against South Africa the final of this ninth edition of the World Cup. "The best samurai had a plan but could adapt, cool but aggressive," recalled, not long ago, the coach, of American-Japanese descent by his mother, and Australian by his father.
Adapt to everything, even to "Rugby gods". Jones, for example, called the All Blacks, New Zealand's three-time world champion team, that England treated them with the greatest respect possible: that is, by setting their pace for better dominate it, Saturday, October 26, already in Yokohama, in the semi-finals (19-7). The first New Zealand defeat in the World Cup since 2007.
"Can we beat the All Blacks one day? Of course. Maybe not right now, but we'll get there. There is no point in playing rugby except to beat the All Blacks one day. "Eddie Jones
A great tactical victory of Eddie Jones, too and above all. That of a coherent game, a system understood by its players. An example ? Or rather two? Owen Farrell and George Ford. In the quarterfinals, the first started opener. And the second, substitute. Winning configuration against Australia, October 19th, in Oita (40-16). But different from the following week, just as winning against the All Blacks: this time, Farrell was three-quarters center right away and Ford, holder at the opening. " Enter modern rugby, join us, join us, Jones told reporters, both mocking and mystical, after the quarterfinal. Rugby has changed, it's a sport that is played at twenty-three (substitutes included). What is your email address? I will send you an e-mail. "
Eddie Jones will have been four years old. It's little, but it's huge, in the yard of the team of France. The coach took office with England at the same time as Guy Novès with the Blues. The first has had an inestimable chance today in this sport, where more and more the short-termism of the results: to be able to work a minimum in the duration, where the second had to leave his post after two years in sentence.
We remember this statement, one day in March 2016 in Saint-Denis, in the auditorium of the Stade de France: "Can we beat the All Blacks one day? Of course. Maybe not right now, but we'll get there in the next two or three years. Anyway, there is no point in playing rugby except to beat the All Blacks one day. " That day, Eddie Jones had just won his first Grand Slam at the Six Nations Tournament. Another title would follow in 2017.
An example to follow
Easy to consider stability when that wins, of course. But much less in case of defeat. Jones' England has had five in a row in 2018 and a pitiful second last place at the Six Nations Tournament. But not enough to turn the corner.
A little chauvinistic morality, on the part of Frederic Michalak, on Twitter: "We hate the English … but we would like to look like them! " Too late for the former opener of the XV of France, which has had its day. But not for the younger generations, wants to believe Philippe Saint-André, after the recent elimination in quarter against the Welsh. In an interview at Parisian, the former coach of the Blues (2011-2015) sees England as an example to follow. Especially at four years of the World Cup in France. "If we do not imitate the English and we hope to succeed in 2023, we are really mistaken. The speed, the individual development of the player, it is a work that must be carried out over four years. "
Highlights of @englandrugby v @allblacks in the first semi-final at Rugby World Cup 2019 # RWC2019 #ENGvNZL https://t.co/QIS9GfV3eV
The English Rugby Federation (RFU) also paid a lot for that. A four-year sum of about 129 million euros to convince local clubs to free their players to the benefit of the national team. Twice as much as the previous amount, indicates L'Equipe. With collateral casualties in the offices: in November 2018, the RFU announced the economic dismissal of 54 of its employees.
Not that of Eddie Jones, extended by two more years. History to facilitate the coming of a successor, and to continue the work undertaken from … Stuart Lancaster, the unfortunate coach of the World Cup 2015, the man of the beginnings of Farrell, Ford or brothers Vunipola. On Saturday against New Zealand, only four of the 15 incumbents owed their selection debut to Eddie Jones: Pillar Kyle Syncler (2016), the two third-lines Tom Curry and Sam Underhill (2017), as well as the second-line Maro Itoje (2016), named man of the match. Or "samurai" is according to.