Eddie Jones to kick off his Japan reign with England showdown in Tokyo | Eddie Jones


Eddie Jones is poised to launch his second tenure as Japan head coach in a mouthwatering reunion with England next June after his return to the Brave Blossoms was confirmed.

Jones’s appointment to the Japan position was announced on Wednesday, ensuring a third international job in the space of 12 months after his sacking as England head coach last December, followed by his disastrous spell in charge of the Wallabies. England are due in Tokyo to face Japan next June before a two‑Test tour of New Zealand, giving Jones an early opportunity to lock horns with his former charges.

The 63-year-old will formally take up the role on 1 January on a four-year deal, returning to the job he held between 2012 and 2015. It was at the 2015 World Cup that Jones’s Japan pulled off their stunning win against the Springboks in Brighton – a result that ultimately paved the way to the England job which he held for seven years until his sacking last year.

Within a month he was unveiled as the Wallabies head coach – with Dave Rennie unceremoniously moved aside – but Jones’s second stint in charge of Australia was an unmitigated disaster. He managed only two wins from nine matches – against Georgia and Portugal – as Australia failed to qualify from their World Cup pool for the first time in the competition’s history. He picked a bizarre squad for the tournament, leaving seasoned players such as Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper at home and putting his faith in youth, but the selection policy backfired.

On the eve of Australia’s thumping 40-6 defeat by Wales in September, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed Jones had been interviewed for the Japan job, despite signing a long-term contract with Australia – who host the British & Irish Lions in 2025 and the World Cup in 2027 – just months earlier. He repeatedly denied having contact with Japan during the World Cup and insisted he was committed to Australia but resigned as the Wallabies coach in October, citing structural issues within the sport.

The former Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan staked his reputation on bringing back Jones and he was ousted last month.

Despite Jones’s unflattering record of late – he ended his tenure with England with a run of five wins from 12 matches – he remains revered in Japan after their performance at the 2015 World Cup. During his England tenure he retained a consultancy role at Suntory Sungoliath and has a close relationship with the head of the Japan RFU, Masato Tsuchida.

In a statement the JRFU said: “The Japan Rugby Football Union is delighted to announce the appointment of Eddie Jones as the new head coach of the Japan national team, the Brave Blossoms.”

The Rugby Football Union’s decision to opt against inserting a non‑compete clause in Jones’s severance agreement last year – and his subsequent appointment by Australia – raised the prospect of a reunion with his former employers in the World Cup quarter-finals.

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Australia’s failure to get out of their pool, however, means England’s trip to Tokyo on 22 June will be the first time Jones coaches against his former side. England then head to New Zealand for Tests against the All Blacks on 6 and 13 July.

The Saracens No 8 Tom Willis, meanwhile, has been ruled out for three months after having knee surgery. Willis made his England debut in the World Cup warm-up defeat by Wales in Cardiff and would have hoped to advance his case for a place in Steve Borthwick’s Six Nations squad.

In better news for Borthwick, who is already without the back-rows Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes for the championship, Ben Earl is expected back in action for Saracens in the next month after a knee operation.


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