Skip to content

Paul Gustard chats working alongside 'outstanding' Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones ahead of France vs England
Image: Paul Gustard chats working alongside Eddie Jones, and what makes the England coach a success

​​​​​​​Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard offers an insight into working alongside "outstanding" and "incredible" England head coach Eddie Jones, in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports...

Speaking as a guest on the latest episode of the Will Greenwood Podcast, Gustard - who worked as England defence coach under Jones between 2016 and 2018 - spoke about what the Australian is like away from the glare of the press, and the skills which mark him out as one of the best coaches in the world.

Jones has been under-fire at times this campaign in the aftermath of England's Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa, with his selection calls and tactics called into question after an opening Six Nations defeat to France in Paris.

"The amount I learnt, the way my coaching developed under Eddie was so significant, I wouldn't be able to do and I wouldn't feel the confidence to do the job I'm doing now had I not had that experience from Eddie," Gustard said.

gustard, jones
Image: Gustard worked as England's defence coach under Jones between 2016 and 2018

"One thing is, he is an outstanding coach. And his work ethic is second to none. If you get a message from me at 5.23am, you'd have got one from him at 3.30am. The guy works incredibly, incredibly hard, and he's also got an amazing eye for rugby. He sees things so fast.

"He comes from a generation where videos and instant feedback wasn't there, so he had to rely on his eyes, on what he saw and he had to be able to coach on the run.

"Some of those skill-sets get lost along the way due to technology and the reliance on information, evidence, data and analytics. Whereas he had to rely on what he saw, use his gut, and act on it straight away.

Also See:

"Some of those things were massive for me. The experiences of being with England, we equalled the world record amount of wins, two Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam, a series win for the first time in Australia, two series wins in Argentina, unbeaten in the Autumn Tests and then, unfortunately, an annus horribilis in 2018 just prior to I left.

"It was brilliant in terms of learning experience, brilliant in terms of memory making. I played twice for England in two non-cap games so I never played international rugby. For me, the opportunity to work in an international environment day-in, day-out, and to feel like being an international sportsperson was a real driver for me."

Guatard left his England post to become Harlequins' head of rugby at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, and one aspect following Jones in his position as national team boss has been the non-selection of in-form Quins No 8 Alex Dombrandt.

What does club coach Gustard think the young back-row needs to do to progress onto the Test stage?

"[Dombrandt is a] phenomenal talent," Gustard added.

"I think it's not necessarily what we need to hear from Eddie. Five rugby coaches, the player himself and his peer group around him are probably all aware where Dom's main strengths are and where he'd like to improve the most.

"The one thing with Alex is, he's very honest. We had a good meeting this morning again about the state of his game, and where we feel he can improve and pick up some yardage. With the ball, there are very, very few people that can do what he can do. His feel for the game is special.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: AAlex Dombrandt of Harlequins celebrates scoring the opening try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Worcester Warriors at Twickenham Stoop on November 09, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)
Image: Alex Dombrandt has been in phenomenal form for Harlequins this season, but an England call-up continues to allude him

"I'm not as fixed on him having to have a certain amount of involvements in the game, because what he can do is special. And we need him to feel that freedom in attack to create opportunities for us.

"He's scored one in three for tries in the Premiership and he's a No 8. He's got a freakish try-scoring record.

"The other side of the ball regarding his defence is the area that is less consistent than his attack.

"The physicality and consistency of dominance from a big man - a 120kg No 8 - is the area that most likely the level above - England and so on - are looking to try and see some improvement in."

To listen to all that and more in a wide-ranging interview between Paul Gustard and Will Greenwood, click here!

Around Sky