According to reports, Eddie Jones was interviewed for another job just weeks before the World Cup began.
The Sydney Morning Herald report that he interviewed for the Japan head coach role over Zoom on August 25 as the Brave Blossoms look for a replacement for Jamie Joseph. That was just two days ahead of their final World Cup warm-up and two weeks ahead of their first pool match against Georgia.
Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh said in a statement: “I take people at their word and Eddie’s said there’s nothing in it. So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of the story and everyone’s focus is on this weekend’s crucial game against Wales.”
At the time of the interview, Jones was still winless as Wallabies coach - having lost his first four games in charge. That record now stands as having lost six of his seven matches, with a first defeat to Fiji in 69 years putting them on the brink of an early World Cup exit.
Asked whether Jones had been interviewed, a Japan Rugby Football Union spokesperson said a selection process was “under way”.
“We have a policy that we won’t disclose any information about any candidates until we announce the new head coach, so unfortunately there is no comment from our president at the moment,” the spokesperson said. “The new head coach has not been decided yet.”
Jones last week denied being in the mix for the Japanese vacancy, dismissing a report from Japanese media that named him as a possible candidate as “bullshit and gossip”. South African coach Frans Ludeke was also mentioned in the report as a potential option.
The Sydney Morning Herald can also reveal Jones was open to the idea of attending a second interview, in person, with Japanese officials who have travelled to France for the World Cup.
Jones has a close relationship with JRFU president Masato Tsuchida. However, the JRFU may be inclined to hire a different coach to the one who helped Japan beat South Africa in a famous victory at the 2015 World Cup.
“A competitive remuneration package will be offered,” reads the candidate briefing document, obtained by the Herald. “The primary purpose of this role is to ensure that the Brave Blossoms are successful on the international stage ... over the next four-year term.”
Wallabies assistant coach Jason Ryles said he would be surprised if Jones walked away from the role.
“To walk away from that would be a bit of a surprise because there is a lot of green shoots for the future. I’m not too sure what he’ll do to be honest with you. It’s good to have options by the sounds of it.”