Win the best-selling book by Eddie Jones
An Eddie Jones press conference rarely passes without some bon mots or provocative comments from England’s head coach. Often he manipulates the news agenda to his advantage, examples of which feature in his recently published and best-selling autobiography – you can read a review of the book here.
Further down this article, you have the opportunity to try to win a copy of the book in our competition. First, by way of a taster, we want to highlight a couple of instances when Jones’s mouth got him into trouble.
The first occurred late in 2005 when Jones, as head coach of Australia, was under heavy pressure after a defeat to England extended the Wallabies’ losing run to seven matches. In particular, criticism from an old adversary, Alan Jones, had got under Jones’s skin.
“I was too busy to get caught up in a spat with my namesake,” writes Jones in his book. “But in an indication of how I was not thinking entirely coolly, I responded to criticism of our scrum at the Twickenham press conference by pointing out that the board had refused to give me the money we needed to run a scrummaging camp for our props.
“My temper had got the better of me and Pemby (David Pembroke), whom the ARU had employed six months earlier to bridge the gap between me and them, ticked me off.
“‘You shouldn’t have said that, Beaver,’ he told me. ‘You don’t publicly criticise the board. Ever. Once you’re home, you need to apologise and set things straight’.”
Australia completed their tour by beating Ireland but losing to Wales and a few days later, on 1 December, Jones was preparing to give his end-of-season presentation to the ARU board, during which he would apologise and take full responsibility for the poor run of results, as well as discuss his plans moving forward.
That was the intention. Instead, CEO Gary Flowers called him early that morning to say they were terminating his contract. An exit deal was struck and Jones’s departure was announced in a press conference the following day.
As he and Pembroke stepped into a lift to leave the building, Jones’s emotions got the better of him. “We had just started to descend when the first tears fell. I couldn’t stop them. I cried in the lift. ‘Mate,’ Pemby said quietly. He did not know what else to say.
“I shook my head as the tears kept rolling down my face. My mouth was crumpled into a little ball which I eventually managed to open. I wanted to tell Pemby how I felt. Finally, just before we reached the ground floor, I got the words out: ‘I will coach at this level again’.”
Fast-forward to March 2019, a year after Jones had been forced to apologise for derogatory remarks – intended to be humorous – about Ireland and Wales uttered at a corporate event in Japan the previous July. By now he was head coach of England.
“You would think I might have really learnt my lesson about making off-the-cuff remarks. But no. I’m not that bright,” writes Jones. “I again dug a hole and tripped over into it. It was nearly as dumb as the embarrassment I caused myself in regard to Ireland and Wales.
“I have for a long time wanted to coach the British and Irish Lions. I still hope that, one day, I might get the opportunity. Apart from telling Pemby, I’d kept it a secret that I had set my sights on the 2021 tour of South Africa. That will be one of the great tours in the history of world rugby.
“In preparation, we were keeping our powder dry and saying all the right things about how you have to be asked before you could consider it. But then I got a long-distance phone call from a journalist in Brisbane.
“I tried to have a laugh with him and said coaching the Lions was an ambassador job. ‘The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer. That’s an ambassador job. I’m a coach. I’d rather coach the Queensland Sheffield Shield [cricket] team.’
“Again, it was a terrible lapse of judgment. Pemby was straight on the phone: ‘Mate,’ he said incredulously, ‘I thought you wanted to do the Lions job?’
“‘I do,’ I said sheepishly.
“‘Well you can safely say that ship has sailed, mate. Seriously, you really make it hard for yourself sometimes.’
“It was another bad error on my part and, to this day, I don’t know why I said it. But as I’ve stressed before, I don’t do regret. It’s better to learn from these little disasters. Maybe one day I will get the chance to coach the Lions. Despite those very public and insulting comments, my genuine opinion is that it would be an honour and a privilege.”
Eddie Jones: My Life And Rugby is published by Macmillan, with an RRP of £20 for the hardback edition. You can buy it here.
We have six copies to give away in a competition. For a chance to win one, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Tuesday 3 March.
Six winners will be selected at random, each winning a copy of Eddie Jones’s autobiography, ‘My Life and Rugby’.
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