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Eddie Jones announced as new Japan rugby union head coach just weeks after Australia exit

Eddie Jones re-hired by Japan for a second spell in charge; Jones returns to the Brave Blossoms after a disastrous 10-month spell back in charge of Australia, who suffered a first Rugby World Cup pool-stage exit, and 13 months after losing his England job

Image: Eddie Jones has been confirmed as Japan's new head coach

Eddie Jones has been announced as the new head coach for Japan less than two months on from his resignation as Australia coach.

Jones has signed a four-year deal taking him up to the 2027 Rugby World Cup and will start his second stint in charge of the Brave Blossoms on January 1.

Jones was appointed by Rugby Australia on a five-year term at the start of 2023, one month after being dismissed by England, but came under intense pressure at the Rugby World Cup when the Wallabies were eliminated in the group stage for the first time.

The 63-year-old had insisted he was "100 per cent committed" to his job as Australia head coach but left the role at the end of October and has now returned to Japan, where he was head coach between 2012 and 2015. He originally served as assistant coach in 1996.

Jones replaces his former successor Jamie Joseph, who led Japan to the World Cup quarter-finals on home soil in 2019 and a pool-stage exit in France, after which he departed.

The 63-year-old, whose mother and wife are Japanese, had denied media reports during the World Cup that he had been interviewed for the Japan job a couple of days before his Australia team's final World Cup warm-up match.

After being sacked by England last December, Jones returned home in January for his second stint as Australia's coach after leading the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final in the first.

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Jones immediately said Australia would claim a third World Cup triumph in France, an assertion that looked laughable after the Wallabies lost all five of their Test matches in the run-up to the tournament.

He left the Wallabies with two wins, over Georgia and Portugal, and seven losses from nine Tests in 2023 and ranked ninth in the world.

Image: Eddie Jones' first stint in charge of Japan was headlined by a famous pool win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup

Jones remains highly regarded in Japan, however, having led the Brave Blossoms to a stunning upset of South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.

What might be the reasons for Jones' Japan return?

Masato Tsuchida
Image: JRFU President Masato Tsuchida (right) has been a close friend of Jones' since 1996

Japan's rugby president is Masato Tsuchida, a figure who just so happens to hold a close friendship with Jones dating back some 27 years.

When Tsuchida was announced as new JRFU president in 2022, he specifically mentioned Jones in his confirmation statement, referencing how Jones had "developed Japanese rugby strongly" when Tsuchida originally became a member of the JRFU Board of Directors in 2015.

Tsuchida and Jones first became friends in 1996, when Jones was assistant coach of the Japan side and Tsuchida was Suntory head coach and incoming Japan forwards coach.

Tsuchida has remained a board member at Suntory ever since, where Jones was head coach between 2009 and 2012 and still holds a lucrative consulting role.

Notwithstanding shocking results and performances, Jones claimed he was left little option but to resign as Australia head coach due to the fact the system would not change. Implicit in this was the intent Jones had for a centralised system where he could control minutes played by players at each club in the country.

Interestingly, with Joseph stepping away from his Japan head coach role after the 2023 World Cup, Tsuchida said: "I want the new head coach to oversee all levels, from high school, U20 to the top level, I want the person to do it consistently, including university rugby." The scenario and beyond in terms of the control and power Jones wants.

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