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While he is no 'Super Coach', the no-nonsense and Confident Jones Can Deliver for England

Recently, I went for a nose around Sir Clive Woodward\'s new company Captured. It is a sort of one-stop shop for sport and business.

Published: 21st November 2015 08:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st November 2015 08:22 AM   |  A+A-

Recently, I went for a nose around Sir Clive Woodward's new company Captured. It is a sort of one-stop shop for sport and business; a depository of information and ideas and intellectual property for leaders of industry. Very impressive it is, too.

The reason it is relevant to today's column, however, is that one of the things that most impressed me during my tour was a very short video that Clive had got Eddie Jones to do during the recent World Cup. Just 30-40 seconds of Jones speaking directly to camera, explaining very succinctly and very clearly how a small team can beat a big team. Effectively, a lesson for every junior side in the country.

Eddie's advice? Firstly, he explained 'ruck and run', the game plan that Japan deployed so effectively at the World Cup, most notably in that stunning win over South Africa in Brighton. And secondly, he said that every player on the team should be able to play scrum-half. It sounds simple. It was simple. But honestly, it is a brilliant bit of coaching.

I am not suggesting that Jones' appointment to the England role is going to be a success on the basis of a simple 30-second video, which I saw on Clive's computer. But I do think it illustrates how capable Jones is of cutting through the b-------, of making his point clearly and concisely. You need a coach who delivers information in a succinct, accessible way; who allows no room for second thoughts. His delivery reminded me of Joe Schmidt, sure of himself, of what he wants. No indecision.

It is just one of the reasons I am positive about Jones' appointment as England's new head coach. As I have said, I am sad that the job could not go to an Englishman. That would have been my preference. I believe the England job should be what all English coaches aspire to. As Michael Cheika said earlier this week when ruling himself out of the running: "I am coaching Australia. This is the dream." So to see the England head coach role go overseas for the first time is in many respects an indictment of our game.

But now that we have crossed the Rubicon, the Rugby Football Union has done well to get Jones and I am chuffed for him. He may not be a 'super-coach' in the manner of a Steve Hansen or a Michael Cheika or a Joe Schmidt or a Warren Gatland. But he has been around the block, backs himself and I like him as a person.

My earliest memories of Jones are from 2003 when he and Clive would lob verbal hand grenades at each other. I liked the spikiness then and I still do now. I think he is a typical Aussie. He speaks his mind, is not afraid to ruffle feathers and backs himself to the hilt.

And why not? He has proved himself over and over. He has taken a tier one nation to a World Cup final, and he has led a tier two nation to three wins in four World Cup matches. In between he has coached at domestic level in Australia and England, and was instrumental in South Africa's World Cup victory in 2007. He knows the game inside out.

The other thing I think is noteworthy is the fact that he had a stroke a couple of years ago. People who have had those sorts of scares tend to have a good handle on things; they remember what is important in life. They have perspective.

There is another video I have in my possession, which I use sometimes when I am giving talks. It is of Eddie watching from the stands, cool as a cucumber, as Elton Flatley kicks the goal that sends that 2003 World Cup final into extra-time. He is ice cool, showing no hint of weakness on the outside.

Now we wait to see who he goes for in his backroom team. I would be staggered if his first conversation was not with his assistants at Japan. Jones is wise enough to know that he was only one component part of Japan's success at the recent World Cup and I am sure he will reach out to the likes of Steve Borthwick.

He will be sensitive to the fact that he is England's first overseas' coach and will want a strong core of Englishmen around him. I'm sure the RFU will have made it a condition that they expect an English coach to be trained up; whether that is Rob Baxter or Jim Mallinder or whoever. Mind you, if he could entice a Wayne Smith into the fold, I don't think you could really argue. If it wins England the World Cup in Japan in 2019 he can have a Martian coaching the team for all I care!

I was fascinated to see that one of his first public pronouncements was that he was happy to stick with the RFU's policy on overseas players. That will certainly have won him some goodwill from the Premiership clubs. It's a good call. Although I thought the policy should have been relaxed at the start of this summer to allow the likes of Steffon Armitage a chance to show what they could do, in general the policy is sound. It is not just about stopping an exodus to France, it is about access to the players; about training time together. I'm not sure exactly what their contracts say, but I believe that for every two-week stint before a Six Nations or the autumn internationals, the likes of Armitage and Nick Abendanon are unavailable for the first week.

What else? It is difficult to see how Chris Robshaw survives as captain. Personally, I would like to see it go to Joe Launchbury. Not only is he the right age, as the prototype, modern day athletic ball-handling second row he walks into the team. If Launchbury then had Borthwick to lean on, he could really grow into that role.

My one tinge of regret is that Clive has ruled himself out of any involvement. To me, that is just a huge waste of his knowledge. I know he divides opinion and people bring up the Lions in 2005, and his stint at Southampton. But he has so much to offer. He gets on well with Jones and I think they could have been a great team.

But overall I am hugely positive. As I said, Jones is an excellent coach who knows what he wants, and is lucky enough to have inherited a promising squad from Stuart Lancaster. The only way is up.



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