Eddie Jones Aims High: Expresses Desire for Japanese Players to Mirror Shohei Othani’s Success | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Eddie Jones Aims High: Expresses Desire for Japanese Players to Mirror Shohei Othani’s Success

Eddie Jones, the man who created "the biggest upset in the history of sports" by defeating South Africa at the World Cup in 2003, is back after a nine-year absence! The roller coaster ride is about to begin.

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His wife is Japanese, Hiroko. We always talked about how we wanted to come back to Japan and how we wanted to live in Japan.

The famous general returned to Japan for the first time in nine years.

Since I started my coaching career in Japan in 1995, I have always had a sense of mission for the national team wherever I have been, and I have always wanted to finish my career in Japan,” he said. There is still room for growth in the national team. I want to give back everything I have learned in my long career.”

Australian-born head coach Eddie Jones (64) was first appointed HC of the Japan national team in 2012. At the time, Japan had won only one game in seven World Cup tournaments. Jones trained the national team with the theme of hard work, forcing them to practice hard five times a day from 5:00 a.m., and in 2003, the team defeated South Africa, a strong team that had won the World Cup twice (now four times). The team stunned the world by defeating South Africa, a powerhouse that had won the World Cup twice (now four times), in 2003, in what was described as “the biggest upset in sports history. He was so successful that he was appointed HC of the England national team in November of the same year. In the 1919 tournament, he led England to a runner-up finish, defeating the All Blacks of New Zealand, the world’s strongest and most talented nation. In the 2011 tournament, he led the two-time champion Australia team.

”All the achievements and accolades belong to the players.” The Japan national team at the ’15 World Cup had more great players and worked harder than any team I have ever coached. I was also able to fulfill my role as their commander.”

But – and HC Jones looked the author in the eye.

For the past eight years, Japan’s winning percentage against the top ten nations has been 7%. We need to increase this winning percentage to 75% to make the top four.”

At a press conference in January, HC Jones declared, “We will go from being ranked 12th to 1st in the world. At a training camp for national team candidates held in Fukuoka in February, Jones held one-on-one meetings with all the players.

The players said they wanted to be in the top four and they wanted to be world-class players,” he said. In other words, they want to be the Shohei Ohtani of the rugby world. My job is to find a way to make their dreams come true. The players need to change, and so do I. My big challenge is to see how much more I can get out of the players.”

Ohtani has taken the Major Leagues by storm by playing two sports that everyone in baseball thought were impossible, and he even surprised the world by winning the home run crown.

Japanese players have the potential to be like Otani. If we can formulate ‘super-fast rugby,’ we can beat the All Blacks and become No. 1 in the world.

Until the ’15 World Cup, HC Jones demanded hard work from his players. He mercilessly scolded players who did not meet the required level.’ Kenju Fukuoka (31, retired), who scored four tries in the 2007 tournament and contributed to the first-ever top eight finish, was one of those who was reprimanded at the training camp in 2012 for showing signs of unwillingness and told to “Go home! He was one of the players reprimanded at the training camp in 2012 for showing a lack of motivation and told to go home.

But at the February training camp, the HC said, “Amazing! Amazing! He always praised the players with a smile on his face, as if he had changed.

He said, “Times have changed, generations have changed, and coaching has also changed. Thirty years ago, when I started coaching, discipline was important and creating an atmosphere that scared the players was important. But now I guide them well and encourage them to think of solutions on their own. However, I never change the standards I demand. When I have a tough talk with players, I go to them individually.”

The professionalization of rugby, which used to be a corporate sport in Japan, has created an environment in which players can concentrate on the game, but there are some unforeseen downsides.

Suntory (now Tokyo Suntory Sangoliath), which I coached in the past, had many players practice after selling beer. Playing rugby was their greatest pleasure, and they had a love of rugby. But now it is different. When rugby becomes their job, they do not want to talk about rugby even when they have free time. As a result, they don’t learn much about rugby anymore. One of the things Japanese players need to do is to create an environment where they can get their love of rugby back.”

Jones went to a yakiniku restaurant with all the players on the night of the Fukuoka training camp, and they talked about rugby to no end.

35-year-old Leach Michael (Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo), who was the captain of the Japan national team at the World Cup in 2003, was also invited to the training camp and was greatly inspired.

I could feel Eddie’s desire to win,” said Michael. I would like to be selected for the Japan national team and play with him again. My goals are high, but I want to work hard as a player and change Japan once again!

HC Jones concluded his speech with this pledge: “The players will be back in ’27.

The players are at the start of a roller coaster ride for the ’27 tournament. There are mountains and there are valleys. Right now we are in 12th place, but if we can come out on top at the finish it will feel really good.”

In the various trials, there may be times when the results are not good enough, and there may be times when you feel down. However, it will be exhilarating to climb back up again to the top. The great general hopes to enjoy this thrilling roller coaster-like process with his athletes, using a different coaching approach than he did nine years ago.

Fukuoka training camp in February. HC Jones, who kicked the ball and coached the players, was himself sweating in the gym early in the morning for strength training.
Eddie Jones, HC of the Japanese national rugby team, special interview: “I want the Japanese players to become ‘Shohei Otani.
Eddie Jones 《HC of Rugby, Japan National Team HC》Special interview “I want Japanese players to become ‘Shohei Otani

From “FRIDAY” March 15, 2024 issue

  • Interview and text Kenji Saito PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu (1st and 3rd photos) Kaori Matsumoto (2nd and 4th photos)

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