the many lives of Australian Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones, October 18 in Oita (Japan), during a training of the England team.
Eddie Jones, October 18 in Oita (Japan), during a training of the England team. Christophe Ena / AP

A mixture of emotions should stir Eddie Jones before the quarterfinal England-Australia, Saturday, October 19, in Rugby World Cup in Japan. The man trains England, but he is half Australian. He is also a Japanese mother, married to a Japanese woman and trained the Japan team. All his lives, identities, loves and disappointments were gathered together for a confrontation of eighty minutes.

Eddie Jones, 59, one of the most experienced coaches at this World Cup, is a star in Japan. Advertisements show it promoting a brand of gin, with the slogan: "Eddie recommends. He is also promoting men's bags. In 2015, the American investment bank Goldman Sachs appointed him adviser on Japan.

This rise is due to an anthology match at the 2015 World Cup. With a historic victory (34-32) against South Africa, snatched from the 84e minute, the Japanese team had, for the first time, realized that it could play in the big leagues. Four years later, the Japanese are in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, while Eddie Jones has become coach of the Fifteen of the Rose.

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Trailing focus, gross deductible

In 2015, the victory was all the more tasty as the Australian had pushed an incredible public joke three years earlier, after a defeat against France. Arms crossed, glare, the coach had let go, in a country that abhors the public conflict. "We played very badly. (…) I was really disappointed with the energy released by the players. (…) This gives the impression that they do not want to play for Japan. " To his captain, seated beside him, who hid his embarrassment behind a chuckle, he replied, cold: " It's not funny. Truly not. "

A few years later, he was still happy to have said his four truths to the Japanese. "It's the best thing I've done. This helped to change the mood of the Japanese, who was a happy team to make efforts but to be beaten honorably. I had to explain that losing was not acceptable. "

Eddie Jones, October 18 in Oita (Japan), with the British player Manu Tuilagi (foreground).
Eddie Jones, October 18 in Oita (Japan), with the British player Manu Tuilagi (foreground). GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Much of Eddie Jones is there. Trailing focus, raw frankness, sense of winning: no doubt, he is Australian. But his mixed-blooded face, his international career and his multicultural family bring a different veneer, which no doubt makes it easier to penetrate foreign cultures.

"I was educated 100% as an Australian. I had nothing to do with Japan or its culture "he explained recently in an interview with Clive Woodward, former coach of England. His mother was Japanese, but she grew up in California. "She had a Japanese face but, by and large, she was American. "

It was only at age 31 that Eddie Jones set foot in the land of the Sunrise for the first time. After a career as a player with no great feat, he began to train at the University of Randwick, Australia. A Japanese university team on the same campus is asking for help. It's going well and she's offering him a job in Japan.

"My mother was probably too hard"

Rugby coach in Japan in the 1990s … At the time, the world of the oval ball looks Japanese high and the funny career choice of the Australian is considered at best as exotic. "Everyone said I was crazy. I won $ 80000 in Australia and was offered half as much in Japan. I gave up everything but it was because I really wanted to become a coach. "

Eddie Jones will not stay long, however, the time to meet his future wife. The following years, his career takes time to take off: a job that runs short Saracens, an English training, a return to Japan, where he works in a high school, then the direction of the Brumbies, an Australian team.

Gradually, his passion for the game, which he dissects obsessively, starts to pay. He took the lead of Australia in 2001. His training sessions are physical, and he does not hide a little penchant for confrontation. "My mother was very hard, probably too hard. I inherited it from her. "

By media, he and Clive Woodward, then coach of England, provoke themselves. Eddie Jones keeps an excellent memory. "Clive and I had a lot of fun. " The final clash takes place in the final of the World Cup in 2003. A drop by Jonny Wilkinson, star of the Fifteen of the Rose, offers the victory to the English in the last seconds. "It took me a while to recover", recognizes Eddie Jones.

Sawtooth results

He left a few years later as a simple advisor to South Africans, who won the World Cup. Then again direction Japan, first for the Suntory Sungoliath team, then for the national team. In 2015, finally, Eddie Jones arrives at the head of an England in crisis, exit in World Cup home from the playoff hens.

Since then, the results are up and down: victory at the Six Nations Tournament in 2016 (Grand Slam) and 2017, then a catastrophic 2018 year (seven consecutive defeats), before arriving at the World Cup in good shape.

The charms of the competition wanted Eddie Jones to find Australia on her way to the quarterfinals. Not enough to shake it. "I am Australian, I love Australia. But I am professional and there is no conflict of interest, he had warned since 2017. He does not hide his ambition: to win the title, for his fourth participation in the World.

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