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Half Mag / Half Zine

Eddie Jones has insisted he had England “on the right track” to peak at next year’s World Cup before he was sacked after seven years in charge, revealing he has held talks with other nations about taking up his next job.

Jones reiterated his belief that he had lost the support of the Rugby Football Union before the defeat by South Africa sealed his fate and was adamant he would not have done anything differently, saying he was coaching well and that the subsequent endorsements from England players backs up that view. That defeat by the Springboks ensured England ended the year with six defeats from 12 Tests and proved the final straw for the RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney, who, when announced Steve Borthwick as the new head coach on Monday, said the decision was based on results.

Jones has come in for criticism for focusing too much on next year’s World Cup, but he has defended that preoccupation and believes England would have delivered at France 2023. “Of course the next game is important, but the World Cup is the ultimate trophy,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “I wouldn’t do anything differently.

“I was quite confident that we were on the right track, leading up to the World Cup. And I still have that belief. But if others don’t share that, then that’s their decision.

“I thought I was coaching well. I was sacked by Australia in 2005 and I wasn’t coaching well. When I look back now I don’t feel like I was coaching poorly, I thought I was coaching well and that’s the only thing I can control.

“The thing that is pleasing is the number of players who have come out and endorsed that, particularly when they can gain nothing from that. It makes me reflect that I probably was coaching well.

“I don’t have any regrets about it. I’ve got some great memories of the English players, they are a great bunch. They play hard and they train hard and they have a lot of pride in playing for England and I’m sure they will do well playing under Steve.”

Jones is in Japan and has been linked with taking up roles there, in the USA as well as with Australia after the union’s chairman, Hamish McLennan, talked of “weaponising” his countryman before next year’s tournament. It is understood a role with Australia in 2024 is considered more likely, but Jones could find himself up against England in some capacity at France 2023.

“I’ve had chats with various people in various organisations about the possibility of joining their team in a capacity over the next 24 months. I’ve had chats with other federations. I want to continue coaching, it’s not about coaching an England rival, I want to add to the game. I love the game, I love coaching.”

The day before Jones was officially sacked he gave a presentation to the RFU in an effort to save his job but recalling the union’s review into England’s autumn performance he believes the decision had already been made.

“I could feel the change in the wind,” he said. “When you have been coaching for a while you feel when your support is starting to wane and I knew we had to have good results in the autumn. I continued on coaching as well as I could and we had a plan to be peaking at the 2023 World Cup, but unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to finish that.

“There was a discussion but when boards make that decision, they already have it firmly in their mind. The reality is that it’s not really a review of your performance, it’s an endorsement of their thoughts.”