Japan coach Eddie Jones admitted Tuesday he was in talks with the Stormers, but he stopped short of saying he had signed a deal with the Cape Town-based Super Rugby side.
Reports from South Africa overnight claim Jones will give up his role as director of rugby at Japan’s new Super Rugby side after agreeing to a two-year contract worth 5 million rand (¥48.2 million) a year, which would make him the highest-paid coach in South Africa.
“They know more than me,” he told Kyodo News when asked about the Cape Times making public his apparent new pay check.
“I am chatting with (the Stormers) but that’s the extent of it. I am off contract in 2015 and I’m looking at my options.”
Jones may be off contract with the Brave Blossoms at the end of the year, but it was thought he would stay on to run both the national and Super Rugby sides.
However, the new team has been beset by problems and if Jones was to take the job in Cape Town, it could very well suggest that Japan is about to have the franchise taken off it.
Since being awarded a Super Rugby berth in November 2014, Japan’s Super Rugby Association has made just two public announcements.
The first was in April of this year when Jones was named director and the second in May when a competition was launched to name the team.
Since then there has been silence.
The June deadline to name the squad passed and as of last Friday a source close to the team said just five players had signed to play for the side.
As for the name, it was supposed to be announced at the end of July but that has now been postponed till “the end of August or beginning of September.”
Rumors of Jones’ signing for the Stormers (to replace Allister Coetzee, who is now coach of Kobe Kobelco Steelers) first surfaced in February and Jones was quick to dismiss them.
“I don’t know where it all comes from,” he told Kyodo. “I am committed to Japan until after the Rugby World Cup.”
The latest reports have caused a furor on social media, but Jones pointed out he was doing nothing unusual in the modern professional era.
“Players and coaches sign contracts and do everything they can until the contract comes to an end. But you need to look elsewhere when your contract is coming to an end. That’s professional rugby,” he said from Miyazaki, where the Brave Blossoms are currently in camp preparing for the Rugby World Cup.
Jones has, over the years, expressed his frustration at the lack of change in the way Japanese rugby is run and the lack of ambition compared with other rugby nations.
And a new challenge would certainly appeal to him.
“That’s why I came to Japan after coaching in England,” he said. “No Australian has done anything in South Africa. I like new challenges and that’s why I am chatting with them.”
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