Fortunately, that was not the case. Not by far. An old friend and rival, Jake White, coach of the South African team, reached out to him by offering him a role as technical adviser to the Springboks. In his autobiography, In black and white, the Boks coach offered a surprising explanation for his decision. “He [Jones] gave me confidence and that was great for me. After all my battles and selection issues, it was good to have an underdog who could have an objective point of view. Sometimes he would tell me to relax, because he too had been through similar situations.
This may be the only recorded instance in history of Jones telling anyone to relax. Either way, their unlikely partnership worked and the Boks won the 2007 World Cup. The rugby world braced for Eddie Jones’ second coming and for a time gave Eddie McGuire a run for his money as “Eddie Everywhere”. Jones, born in Tasmania and brought up in New South Wales, became an adviser to Saracens in England, then their director of training before becoming head coach of Suntory Sungoliath and in turn boss of the Japanese national team.
For two days in 2013, he was hospitalized after a suspected stroke, but through his will alone he returned to work. Under him, the Brave Blossoms recorded arguably the biggest upset in rugby history, beating the Springboks in the 2015 World Cup. With that display, he was appointed as England manager.
He is now set to eclipse arch-rival Woodward, who survived as England manager for seven years. Few milestones mean a lot to Jones, but I imagine one could.
He currently finds himself in Perth preparing to face his native Australia. An Australian side with Cooper almost certainly back in the playmaker position. The No.10 Wallabies also took a long, circuitous route to Optus Stadium. It doesn’t hurt Jones. Indeed, he often praises him for toughening him up.
Two extraordinary survivors. Both persisted well beyond what was reasonable. Both deserve good fortune but, unfortunately, one of them drags the bloody Poms.
Watch every July Test Series match on the home of rugby, Stan Sports. Kicking off this weekend with Wallabies v England (Saturday, 7:15 p.m. AEST), All Blacks v Ireland (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. AEST), South Africa v Wales (Sunday, 12:55 a.m. AEST) and Argentina v Scotland (Sunday, 5:05 a.m. AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on-demand only on Stan Sport.