LONDON – Japan coach Eddie Jones has fired a stunning broadside at the Asian nation’s rugby board, accusing it of holding back the sport and casting doubt on its ability to build on the Brave Blossoms’ breakthrough World Cup win over South Africa.
Jones led Japan to its greatest rugby triumph just over a week ago, a 34-32 win over the Springboks that prompted nearly 20 million Japanese to tune in to its next match against Scotland, a 45-10 defeat.
The win over South Africa was lauded as Japan’s “coming of age” as a rugby nation by pundits worldwide, but Jones was far less bullish about the 2019 World Cup hosts’ prospects.
“The legacy now is how the Japan Rugby Football Union uses the win and how strong they are in developing good coaching systems and improving infrastructure to go forward,” the 55-year-old Australian told Kyodo News at Japan’s team base in Warwick, England.
“This is like a balloon. It can be popped or it can be a real growth spurt. It’s entirely the responsibility of the JRFU.
“To keep improving, things have to change. I couldn’t go back after the World Cup and do what I have done for the last four years because we are not going to improve enough within the current structures. I know enough about rugby to know that.”
Jones, who coached Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, said the Brave Blossoms were not just a representative team of Japan’s top players, but also had to act as a development team and a casualty ward for their injured.
“We’ve had to use it for rehab and keep injured players with us because we can’t send them back (to their domestic teams),” he said.
“All those things have to change if Japan wants to be a serious rugby country.
“One of the reasons I decided not to continue was because I didn’t think those things could change.”
After four years in charge, Jones will quit Japan after the World Cup to coach the Cape Town-based Stormers in the Southern Hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition.
His departure also means he won’t take up an appointment as director of Japan’s fledgling Super Rugby team which is to join an expanded 18-team competition next season.
The new team is still unnamed, lacks a coach and has yet to unveil a playing list but Super Rugby’s governing body SANZAR confirmed it in the draw for the 2016 season released on Monday.
“I am surprised Super Rugby is going ahead (with them) but maybe there were legal ramifications,” Jones said.
“It just hasn’t got the right infrastructure in place to be successful and it could end up doing more harm than good.”
Nadolo hit with ban
London — World Cup chiefs handed Fiji star Nemani Nadolo a one-week ban on Monday for a dangerous tackle, ruling him out of a key clash against Wales on Thursday.
The ban against the 196 -cm giant further tarnished the Pacific Islanders’ disciplinary record and was a huge loss for Fiji, with Nadolo having scored 16 of its 24 points so far at the tournament.
He was accused of carrying out a high tackle during Australia’s 28-13 win last Wednesday. Rugby World Cup said Nadolo, 27, had denied the offense.
A statement said judicial officer Chris Quinlan “was not satisfied” Nadolo had committed a spear tackle — where a player is lifted up and dropped head downward.
But he was found guilty of the lesser charge of a dangerous tackle. Quinlan said he had reduced a two-week ban to one week because of “mitigating factors” including Nadolo’s “excellent disciplinary record.”
In two matches Fiji has now conceded 24 penalties and had three players yellow-carded, while Nadolo follows flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu in being suspended for a week. Waqaniburotu admitted to a dangerous tip tackle on England’s Jonny May.
Following losses to Australia and England, Fiji is desperate to salvage some pride against a Wales side buoyed by its stunning 28-25 victory over England inspired by a kicking master class from fly-half Dan Biggar.
Their woeful record has left the Fijians in no doubt they must get their discipline under control for the Pool A match against Wales or they will be punished by Biggar.
“Certainly their goal kicking is spot on, so we’re going to have to be careful to be well-disciplined in our own half,” coach John McKee admitted on Sunday.