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SHAUN EDWARDS: Jones has brilliant World Cup record, sacking him shows the high expectations of RFU

SHAUN EDWARDS: Eddie Jones has a brilliant World Cup record, sacking him shows the high expectations of the RFU… his mistake was putting the Six Nations on the backburner

  • Not many coaches have been sacked when their team are fifth in the world 
  • World Cup is just nine months away and Eddie Jones is a big tournament guy
  • It is brilliant for international rugby that Warren Gatland is back with Wales 

I am surprised England sacked Eddie Jones because he has a brilliant record at World Cups and it is only nine months away. He reached the final with Australia in 2003, won it with the Springboks in 2007, did incredible things with Japan in 2015 and was runner-up with England in 2019.

He is a big tournament guy and I don’t remember many coaches being sacked when their team are fifth in the world. Modern-day sport is a ruthless, results-based business and the decision shows how high the expectations of the RFU are.

I have a lot of respect for Eddie as a coach. He doesn’t take any prisoners. In the end, he lost the support of the public and that is very hard to get back. The players need to feel like the country is behind them because that adds a lot to your performances. 

Eddie Jones has been sacked as England head coach, ending his seven-year reign in charge

I’m sure Eddie understood the significance and the history of the Six Nations but sometimes he spoke about it like it was just preparation for the World Cup, almost putting it on the back burner, and that was a mistake. Those big days at Twickenham generate a lot of income and keep the game alive. We are in the entertainment business and if it is Steve Borthwick who comes in then he will need to work hard to get the public back on side.

Does it surprise me that Warren Gatland ended up with Wales over England? Not really. They offered him a five-year deal and as a coach you want that job security. That is why I signed for France. You need to think about your family’s future.

It is brilliant for international rugby that Warren is back with Wales. We spent 12 years together there and it is a great move to bring him back. Rugby needs big names to engage the fans and sell tickets and there are not many bigger names out there.

The defeat by injury-hit South Africa at Twickenham last month proved to be the last straw for the RFU hierarchy

The defeat by injury-hit South Africa at Twickenham last month proved to be the last straw for the RFU hierarchy

Warren loves the Six Nations so it is the perfect timing for him. It comes around very quickly after the autumn. The whole country comes alive for that competition with passion, enthusiasm and expectation. Wales find an extra five or 10 per cent and that is why Warren has been one of the most successful Six Nations coaches of all time. It is the perfect time to start the project.

The first thing I would do in his shoes is bring back Rob Howley. Rob has served his time for betting and it was the most difficult period in his life. He is a superb Welsh coach who understands their game. Wales have already got an excellent attack coach in Stephen Jones so maybe there is a way of creating an extra role alongside him because Rob is a good all-rounder. I’m pretty sure Warren will be on the phone to him.

I have kept in contact with Warren. My son, James, is close with his son, Bryn. They grew up together. Bryn is in rugby and James is in politics. Warren sent me a text when James won the Bayswater election and I send Warren a text when Bryn is on TV.

Working with France now, I’m looking forward to going up against him in the Six Nations. When we got in different planes and went our separate ways from Japan in 2019, this is not how I predicted things would turn out but in sport you expect the unexpected.

Elite level sport is all about competing against the best and that is exactly what Warren is.

Warren Gatland has agreed to a stunning return as Wales head coach, replacing Wayne Pivac

Warren Gatland has agreed to a stunning return as Wales head coach, replacing Wayne Pivac

He was very good at using as few words as possible to get over his message. Our motto was ‘no one works harder than us’. He talked Martyn Williams out of retirement when he first took over and we won the Grand Slam. We pushed the players so hard and after that tournament Martyn said: ‘If I’d known how hard we were going to train I’d have never come back!’

It is interesting that Warren has potentially signed up for a long-term role. His speciality is on the pitch and winning games but he will want the Under 20s to do well and hopefully develop physically. That is something he will do long term. No matter how skilful you are if you are not physical it is difficult to play international rugby. He wants his players to be ready for the physicality, it is vital, and he is good at getting the right people in to do that.

To be honest, I was surprised the Welsh Rugby Union did not ask him to continue after the 2019 World Cup. We were three points away from reaching the final, losing to South Africa by three points in the semi-final. I still remember the bus journey back to the hotel from that match. It was dead quiet, everything sinking in, but we still had a third-place match to prepare for against New Zealand on the Friday. We had been battered by injuries, losing a lot of our defensive leaders, and I broke the silence by jokingly asking if any of the coaches wanted to swap roles with me.

As long as Warren’s got most of his best players available for selection then he can turn things around for the World Cup. One thing Clive Griffiths always told me is that when Wales have got their full team then they are a match for anyone in the world. Warren’s got the respect of the players and he brings a little bit of positive fear to the environment. They can be a force at next year’s World Cup.

New Zealander Gatland led the country to four Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-finals

New Zealander Gatland led the country to four Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-finals

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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