Japan coach Eddie Jones is stepping down after the Rugby World Cup, he confirmed on Tuesday.
Speaking from Miyazaki, where the Brave Blossoms are in camp ahead of the upcoming World Cup, Jones said he wanted to quash all the rumors and innuendo so the players and staff could concentrate on the job at hand.
The Japan Rugby Football Union announced Jones’ planned departure at a news conference on the same day in Tokyo.
“The (Japan Rugby Football) Union are going to announce this afternoon that I will not be continuing after 2015,” Jones told Kyodo News.
“That was always the case as my contract was until the end of the year, so all they are doing is stating the obvious.”
JRFU General Secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto confirmed that Jones would also quit as the director of rugby of Japan’s new Super Rugby side.
“We’ve made a great deal of progress under Eddie Jones. We’ve beaten strong nations and showed Japan’s true value in doing so,” Sakamoto said. “We had the overture from the head coach and accepted it as he was resolute in his decision.
“We’d like to show our gratitude and respect to Jones for contributing to the development of Japanese rugby over the past four years. We wish him all the best in his challenge in the World Cup, to reach our target of the quarterfinals.”
Jones informed the JRFU of his intention to step down last Thursday and it was accepted at the union’s board meeting on Monday.
“People assumed that as I had been named the director of the new Super Rugby side I would stay on,” Jones said. “But that was just an administrative role not a coaching role. All I was doing was helping get it set up.”
Last week, reports from Cape Town claimed the Stormers and Jones had agreed on a two-year deal beginning in 2016. And Tuesday’s news would seem to confirm that Jones would be the first Australian to coach a South African Super Rugby side.
“I have coached for 20 years, and coached the Wallabies for five years,” Jones said. “And with hindsight I should have left after four. Four years is enough for an international coach and I have put a lot into this. It’s been one of the hardest jobs I have done.”
Jones, who replaced John Kirwan as Japan coach in 2012, said he informed the players of his decision earlier Tuesday and that he was hopeful the whole squad could remain focused on performing well at the World Cup.
“My focus was always to change Japanese rugby history and ensure Japan was a serious rugby nation by the time I left,” he said.
Reading between the lines, however, it would seem that all is not well with Japanese rugby, with the proposed Super Rugby franchise struggling to get players, and rumors that the JRFU has been eying a local coach with no international experience to take over the national team.
Jones, however, refused to be drawn into anything other than how the team will do at the World Cup.
“The decision doesn’t change anything we have done or are going to do,” he said.
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