x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

2019 World Cup hosts Japan turn to Eddie Jones

The former Australia coach has been chosen to replace the All Blacks legend John Kirwan as coach of the Japan rugby union team.

Eddie Jones led Australia to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, which they lost to England.
Eddie Jones led Australia to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, which they lost to England.

TOKYO // The former Australia coach Eddie Jones has been chosen to replace the All Blacks legend John Kirwan as coach of the Japan rugby union team.

The Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) recommended Jones as the sole candidate for the job when it convened a special meeting to review the structure of the national team, reports said.

Jones, 51, declined to comment on the status of the Japan job. He has been managing Japan's Top League side, Suntory Sungoliath, since 2009.

No official was immediately available at the JRFU to comment.

Speaking to The National in November, Jones revealed his desire to be given a chance with Japan.

"Coaching Japan would be an exciting challenge," he said. "They are ranked 15th in the world, but with the strong financial support they have and the improving domestic league, they are capable of being a top-10 side.

"I'm still waiting to see what they do. It's a massive opportunity to coach Japan at the World Cup in 2019 [as joint hosts]. I'd like to be part of that."

The union is expected to negotiate with Jones's current employer, Suntory, hoping to appoint him to the coach's position in April after the Top League season ends in late February.

Jones, who took Australia to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, which they lost to England, has emerged as Kirwan's likely successor since Japan came home winless from the recent World Cup in New Zealand.

He earlier said he would take the Japan job if selected and if Suntory approved.

Jones, whose mother is of Japanese ancestry and whose wife is Japanese, has cultivated contact with Japan over several years.

Japan will co-host the World Cup in 2019 with Hong Kong and Singapore.

They are comfortably the best team in Asia, having won the Asian Five Nations at a canter with a points difference of plus 272. The UAE were third in the competition.

* Agence France-Presse