Sir Clive Woodward claims Rugby Australia were WRONG to hire Eddie Jones and believes bosses were ‘hoodwinked’ by the Wallabies coach… as England legend pinpoints why it all went wrong at the Rugby World Cup

Sir Clive Woodward has launched a scathing review of Eddie Jones’s performance as Wallabies coach, claiming that Rugby Australia were ‘hoodwinked’ by the 58-year-old.

Jones replaced Dave Rennie as head coach nine months before the Rugby World Cup in France, but oversaw a dreadful campaign in which they crashed out at the pool stage.

The former England coach has demanded patience with his young side, as he eyes a strong tilt at the tournament in four years’ time, which will be hosted on home soil, while the British and Irish Lions are visiting in 2025.

But Woodward, who won the World Cup with England in Sydney 20 years ago, believes that is a nonsense argument. 

‘I think when you become an international coach, it is about today, it’s not four years time. It’s a good job if you can get it, going around persuading people it’s not about today,’ Woodward told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sir Clive Woodward has claimed Eddie Jones ‘hoodwinked’ Rugby Australia

The Wallabies crashed out of the Rugby World Cup following a dismal campaign

The Wallabies crashed out of the Rugby World Cup following a dismal campaign

‘You are coaching the team and if you get beaten by 50 points, that’s where you are today. I think it is a cop-out. The moment you talk about a development team, you’re not going to win, so why are you are even in the tournament? You should be competing, so you should be sending the best team you have today. If you start saying you’re developing for the future, it’s the wrong thing to do and it’s the wrong thing for the country.

‘When I picked a team, almost without exception I could say to everyone this is the strongest team to play for England this weekend. And the players loved that. There was no development, leave that to schoolboy teams and under-21 teams and the ‘A’ teams. I think that’s your job.

‘The problem is administrators come in and they get hoodwinked by all this stuff. They don’t really understand the sport, they come in with a business background and are successful people and they get hoodwinked by people like Eddie Jones, who start talking about the Lions tour and 2027.

‘The moment you do that, you not only lose it with the public, you lose it with the team. Because you can’t talk about a development team. It’s not about that.

‘I don’t blame Eddie for that. If he can get away with it, good on him. But I do blame the guys in charge, because they’ve just been hoodwinked.’

Woodward added that the timing of Rennie’s sacking was wrong, and pinpointed the exact moment his relationship with Jones broke down. 

‘I just couldn’t believe that. I watched that game against the All Blacks when they should have beaten them, and there was that ridiculous [refereeing] decision in the last few seconds,’ he said. 

Woodward used to be close friends with Jones

McLennan has strongly backed Jones

Woodward (left) believes Wallabies chiefs (pictured right: Hamish McLennan) were duped

Woodward also slammed the idea that Jones is developing a team for 2027

Woodward also slammed the idea that Jones is developing a team for 2027

‘They were doing well, and to change your coach before the World Cup … I don’t know why that happened. I think that was a huge error.

‘When we started to fall out was that [2019] World Cup final. They played a brilliant [semi-final] game against the All Blacks, but that final was a complete no-show. I don’t think Jones ever recovered from that. It was such a massive disappointment; he’s never been the same coach since. 

‘When he started coaching England, we went downhill so quickly after 2019 that they should have removed him after two years, the team was all over the place. That’s not his fault, it was the people at the top of the game. But there was no-one at Twickenham who was qualified to say ‘this guy has got to go’. In the end he stayed too long.’