England rugby chiefs have been branded clueless by former Wallabies star David Campese after it emerged that Australian ex-Japan coach Eddie Jones is set to succeed Stuart Lancaster.
Jones is believed to have held talks with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in London yesterday and the appointment of England’s first foreign head coach could be confirmed on Friday.
The RFU are thought to have agreed to pay Cape Town Super Rugby franchise the Stormers around £350,000 to release Jones from a three-year contract that he only began last week.
Jones, 55, possesses the “proven international experience” stipulated by RFU chief Ian Ritchie but Campese derided the move as “desperate” and a damning indictment of the state of English rugby.
“Don’t you want an Englishman to coach an English team and win the World Cup?” said the outspoken former Australia back, who scored 64 tries in 101 internationals.
“It obviously shows that after the World Cup you guys are lost. You’ve got all the money in the world – and all the players – and you’ve still got no idea how to play the game.”
Cumbrian Lancaster departed the role after almost four years at the helm earlier this month following a miserable home World Cup in which the hosts exited at the pool stage.
Jones enjoyed a markedly better tournament, leading Japan to three wins including a 34-32 victory over South Africa widely regarded as among the biggest shocks in World Cup history. The Tasmanian has a notable CV, having worked under Jake White when South Africa lifted the trophy in 2007, four years after Jones’s Australia team were beaten by England in the 2003 final.
Current Australia captain Stephen Moore, who helped the Wallabies beat England at Twickenham on their way to last month’s final, gave his former mentor a ringing endorsement.
“Eddie is very thorough and always brings a lot of attention to detail,” said Moore. “He looks at different sports and different teams to see what they do well, making sure that whatever team he’s in charge of is at the forefront of the way things are done in sport. He’s a very professional coach and knows what it takes to win.”
Former South Africa lock Bakkies Botha also backed Jones and credited him with a major contribution to the 2007 World Cup win, in which they beat England in the final.
“Eddie played a bigger role in 2007 than people realise,” said Botha. “He brought calmness to the backline and gave a lot of confidence to the players, bringing the best out of them.
“He brings a lot of calmness to the coaching team. He’s an awesome human being and coach. If Eddie is appointed it will be a good step forward for England. He will definitely be a success.”