x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Jones: Japan will be ready

Disaster will be a 'distant memory' by the time World Cup comes around in 2019.

Eddie Jones is working in South Africa but has worked with Suntory Sungoliath in various capacities since 1997.
Eddie Jones is working in South Africa but has worked with Suntory Sungoliath in various capacities since 1997.

Eddie Jones is confident Japan will recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in time to stage the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

The sporting calender has been disrupted since the massive earthquake struck the northern coast last Friday but the former coach of Australia, who is half Japanese, believes the country will be ready to host the tournament, which will be held in Asia for the first time.

"I have no doubt about that," Jones said. "This will be a distant memory by 2019. You just have to look at Kobe and how quickly they recovered [from the earthquake in 1995] and I'm sure Sendai will be exactly the same."

Jones is working in South Africa conducting coaching clinics with Jake White, the 2007 World Cup-winning coach, but has worked with Suntory Sungoliath, the Japanese rugby giants, in various capacities since 1997.

He said he would consider a return to international coaching if the country of his mother's birth offered him the job ahead of the World Cup in eight years' time.

"If they were interested in me coaching Japan, I would certainly consider it seriously," Jones, 51, said. "It would be a great challenge to get Japan into the top tier in the world, but with the infrastructure there I think they are capable of doing it.

"Things are taking shape slowly. You are seeing a renewed enthusiasm for rugby. The top clubs and all the big companies have got their minds on getting rugby stronger.

"There is a great thirst to get rugby on a high and everything is moving in the right direction."

A report conducted by Deloitte calculated that the World Cup could generate more than £2 billion (Dh11,802bn) in economic benefits for the host nation.

Japan will welcome the boost to an economy rocked by the disaster.

Jones was in South Africa when news of the tragedy broke and he frantically attempted to contact his wife and 18-year-old daughter in Tokyo.

"I was waking up and my initial reaction was to check to see if my family was OK," Jones said. "Mobile phones were out so I couldn't ring them but eventually I got some e-mails and thankfully they were all right.

"My wife was on the 28th floor and she said she had never been so terrified in her life. She said the building was shaking. They evacuated the school my daughter is at and it's closed all next week.

"She is a bit shaken and a lot of her friends are American and they have got back home. My daughter did work experience in Sendai at a nursery and she is worried about the family she stayed with.

"We haven't been able to contact them yet so we are worried about them and the kids from the nursery."

Jones believes the Japanese people have the resolve to recover from destruction cause by the 9.0 magnitude quake.

"The Japanese are such industrious people," Jones said. "Obviously it's absolute chaos at the moment and it will be a great challenge for them to work together.

"It's been quite amazing the e-mails I have received and they have all been about working together to rebuild the nation. It's probably not too dissimilar to the end of the Second World War when the country was in chaos.

"It's another big challenge to rebuild the country but I'm sure they will do it efficiently, diligently and it will bring the country closer together again."


Sporting disruption


The Japan Football Association (JFA) cancelled friendlies with Montenegro on March 25 and New Zealand four days later. The domestic J League was postponed indefinitely on Tuesday. Asian Champions League fixtures between Nagoya Grampus and Al Ain and Kashima Antlers and Sydney FC were postponed. Some 150 students and staff at the JFA academy near Fukushima were evacuated for fears of a radiation leak nearby.


The Japanese round of the MotoGP championship, scheduled to take place at Motegi on April 24, was postponed until October 2.

Figure Skating

The world championships scheduled for March 21 to 27 in Tokyo were postponed. The event may be cancelled. Next month’s World Team Cup has been called off.


The women’s marathon, scheduled to take place last Sunday, was cancelled.


A Japanese LPGA event in Kochi was scrapped after the first round while this week’s event in Kagoshima has also been called off.

Ice Hockey

The Asia League championship finals were cancelled.


Nippon Professional Baseball is considering delaying the scheduled March 25 start of the season.


The BJ-league cancelled all fixtures last weekend. The JBL league cancelled the rest of their season.


Next month’s national swimming championships were cancelled because the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre venue was damaged.