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13:44 25 August 2015

Rugby: Jones to step down as Japan coach after Rugby World Cup

By Rich Freeman
TOKYO, Aug. 25, Kyodo

Japan coach Eddie Jones will step down after the Rugby World Cup, he told Kyodo News on Tuesday.

Speaking from Miyazaki in the southern island of Kyushu, where the Brave Blossoms are in camp ahead of the World Cup, Jones said he wanted to quash all the rumors and innuendo so the players and staff could concentrate on the job in hand.

"The (Japan Rugby Football) Union are going to announce this afternoon that I will not be continuing after 2015," he 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."

"People assumed that as I had been named the director of the new Super Rugby side I would stay on. But that was just an administrative role not a coaching role. All I was doing was help 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. 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 went to say that very few coaches are able to go past one cycle of World Cups, pointing to the England coach who defeated Jones and Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final.

"Look at Clive Woodward. In 2003 he was the best coach in the world, but in 2004 it all ended in tears. Graham Henry has been the only exception. He had a side that usually won 95 percent of their games. If it was done to 85 it was a bad day. They (the All Blacks) are a bit different."

Jones said he had 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 have 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. The players aren't thinking past the World Cup. We are just focused on what we have to do."

"And by making the decision now, it's a great opportunity for the JRFU to find a new person with a new perspective and new ideas so he can build a team towards 2019."




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