England face South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday morning in the hope of getting their hands on the Webb Ellis trophy for a second time.
They have had a hugely impressive tournament, blowing away all in their path to reach the final, with their nail-biting semi-final victory over New Zealand arguably the finest in their history.
The All Blacks, who had won successive World Cups going into the tournament, simply could not match the ferocity of Eddie Jones’ men, who mentally and physically drained their opponents from the off, challenging the Kiwis’ Maori ritual, the Haka, with a stiff V-shape formation.
England, led by the imperious Owen Farrell, backed up their pre-match cockiness with a performance for the ages, but it is Jones who must take the a fair chunk of the credit for England’s stellar run to the Yokohama showpiece.
Jones has instilled an aura of arrogance and winning mentality in the side which hasn’t been seen for years.
But who is he and where has he come from? talkSPORT.com looks at the Aussie mastermind aiming to keep the promise he made to players four years ago…
Jones’ success as a player was less illustrious than his coaching career, having played as a hooker for Sydney-based club Randwick and provincial side New South Wales before turning his hand to coaching in 1994.
After his first coaching role with Randwick, Jones moved to Japan and took charge of University side Toka, while also assisting the national team before joining Suntory Sungoliath, who he would return to later in his career.
He was given an opportunity to return to Australia in 1998 and seized it, joining Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies, who became first non-New Zealand side to win the title in his second year in charge.
It was this success that ultimately saw Jones’ coaching pedigree reach the top of the game.
Shortly after his success with Brumbies he was offered the Australia national team job, and he made an immediate impact with the Wallabies as they won the Tri-Nations tournament that year.
He found more success at the 2003 Rugby World Cup on home soil, but ultimately their run ended in failure as Jonny Wilkinson’s extra time drop kick in the final saw them fall at the final hurdle.
Despite the result, Jones signed a new contract with the Wallabies to the end of the next World Cup in 2007.
However, the decision to offer a long-term contract proved to be a disaster by Rugby Australia as a run of seven straight defeats in 2005 saw him sacked at the end of the year.
It was after this Jones decided to ply his trade in England with Premiership side Saracens on a consultancy role until the end of the 2005/06 season, while also acting as the head coach role with the Queensland Reds.
Eddie Jones' coaching career
1995–1996: Tokai University
1996: Japan (Assistant)
1997: Suntory Sungoliath
2006: Saracens (Consultant)
2007: South Africa (Assistant)
2009–2012: Suntory Sungoliath
2015 – England
After a good start, results quickly turned sour with the Reds and Jones was sacked after just one season after they finished bottom of the Super Rugby tournament.
Jones would quickly find success again, though, by becoming a technical adviser to Jake White’s South Africa side that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup – where ironically he would have been coaching Australia had he not been dismissed from his post.
“Eddie’s unique,” White said. “I know how badly he wants to win.
“He got to a World Cup final with Australia, was part of our win in 2007, took Japan to a level no one thought they could reach, won a Super Rugby championship with the Brumbies and is now in a World Cup final with England,” he added, before noting similarities between Jones and two legendary Premier League managers.
“Look at his record and he’s a winner – a mixture of [Sir Alex] Ferguson and [Pep] Guardiola. He is clever enough to work out what he needs.
“He brought in younger players like Guardiola did at City and cut old ones and big names like Ferguson at United,” pointing out his balance between the fun-loving guy – Guardiola – and being unafraid to make big calls like Fergie.
Jones has spoken of his admiration for Guardiola’s coaching style and even went to learn from the Man City manager when he was in charge of Bayern Munich.
“It changed the way I coach,” Jones later said. “I came out of that session embarrassed about how I had been coaching.
“They did quite a traditional warm-up and I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not going to learn anything today’. But then they had 21 players and they were in three teams of seven, working on getting into space. Pep was out there running the session and speaking in four or five different languages telling guys like [Arjen] Robben what to do,” explaining that it was enlightening seeing how hard he worked his players.
“When I was a young coach I used to coach pretty hard and I probably got criticised a bit for it. But I went and watched Pep’s session. He was coaching some of the best players in the world and it was minus five. It was freezing.”
After working with White, Jones returned to Saracens for two years as director of rugby, although his tenure ended in turmoil as a dispute with the club’s board saw him step down in 2009 when he would return to Japan to coach Suntory Sungoliath’s once again.
In 2012, following the retirement of Kiwi legend Sir John Kirwan, Jones was appointed as head coach of Japan and led them to arguably the biggest shock in rugby history by beating South Africa in a dramatic encounter.
Carry them home
Following three reasonably successful years in the Far East, Jones was offered the Twickenham hotseat and he has since led the Red Roses to two Six Nations championships and a whitewash of Australia down under, whilst also scooping the World Coach of the Year award in 2017.
Almost exactly four years after being appointed England coach, Jones is looking to claim the one trophy that has eluded him on Saturday morning: the World Cup.
And if former England forward James Haskell’s words are anything to go by, it seems it is destiny England reclaim the ultimate prize after a vow Jones made just days after his appointment.
Haskell told the Sports Breakfast: “He addressed the team and said: ‘Look, we’re fifth or sixth in the world. Do you genuinely think you guys are the fifth of sixth best team in the world?’
“We said ‘no’.
“Then he said: ‘We’re going to work to be the best team in the world and we’re going to win a World Cup. We’re going to do it through hard work and sacrifice. I’m going to ask you to sacrifice things no coach has asked you to do before and we’re going to have to go to some uncomfortable places and we’re going to be very honest with each other’. And I believed him.”
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