He has the best winning percentage of any coach to have been in charge of England and he took a team from one of their lowest points in recent times to an unlikely World Cup final, but Eddie Jones is down and out – and English rugby is poorer for it.
Whether it was his lambasting of his critics, his eagerness to change the narrative or his autocratic obsession with the World Cup in France next year and subsequent neglect of the rest of the calendar, Jones’s rapid rise with England, which began with a 17-match winning streak, has crumbled in a little over a month.
When he took the role, after England’s humiliating group stage exit at the 2015 World Cup, the side were in disarray. He became the first foreign coach of the English institution and got off to an incredible start.
A Grand Slam in his first Six Nations, followed by a series whitewash against Australia Down Under, culminated in an unbeaten 2016 following a successful autumn window.
The slow decline would appear to have started in 2018 when the Australian led England to a Six Nations campaign that saw them win just two matches – a feat England would repeat in both 2021 and 2022.
But Jones signed a contract ahead of that 2018 tournament to keep him in place beyond the World Cup in Japan. The initial plan was to have a successor confirmed in order for a transitional phase to take place. It never happened.
Jones in Japan
A poor 2018 soon became the year of the World Cup in 2019, but in Japan England romped to the final – and on the way beat New Zealand in a semi-final many would say represented the very, very best of English Test rugby.
But in the final, Jones’s third in management, his side came a cropper to a brilliant South Africa outfit. England had played their World Cup final one game too early.
And from there, well, it was a slow snowball at the top of a semi-steep hill that rolled and rolled towards this autumn when it reached peak velocity.
This year has quite simply been a shocker for Jones. England won just five Tests in 12 matches, also lost an exhibition game against the Barbarians and lost to Argentina at home for the first time since 2006 – ironically a game which contributed to the downfall of Andy Robinson in 2007.
But Jones ends his career with the best winning percentage of any England men’s coach in history and with a winning record in Australia of five matches out of six.
He has been a sensational coach for England and some would argue his dismissal is a mistake just nine months out from a World Cup.
With the showpiece tournament closing in, mass change could be the worst thing England could have done – but they’ve done it and there’s no going back now.
Jones rose with Japan, skyrocketed with England and then plummeted in charge of the same team he’d shone with.
He will not be out of a job for long – the United States are reportedly looking at the Australian on an eight-year deal – but his time with England is over.
England’s period of purgatory begins, but for how long they’re without a permanent coach remains unknown.