Eddie Jones targets golden era for Australian Rugby

Fri, Feb 3, 2023, 5:01 AM
Rebels Media
by Rebels Media

Eddie Jones may not consider himself the Messiah, but the incoming Wallabies boss is hoping his return can help fast-track support for Rugby in Australia. 

Jones made an emotional return to Matraville High School for his introductory press conference on Tuesday, flanked by his old mates Gary, Glen and Mark Ella, nearly brought to tears when talking about what it meant to return 'home'. 

"It definitely does (feel like home)," he told reporters.  

"Mark, Glen, Gary and I were talking out there and we’ve got the fourth Ella, a red-headed one Greg who played on the wing. We left (Matraville) in 1977 and to come back here now is pretty special. It’s a good feeling.  

"It’s quite emotional." 

The 63-year-old rejected any claims he is Rugby's 'messiah', focused on building support from the grassroots up in the quest to get the Wallabies back on top. 

He called it a 'line in the sand' moment, hungry to develop a Wallabies team that thrives in tight contests. 

"Firstly I reckon we’ve got to draw a line in the sand of where we’ve been and work out where we want to go and have that picture in our head," Jones explained.  

"...We need people to want to support Rugby. Imagine the first round of Super Rugby and we’ve got record crowds at every game. What sort of message does that send to the Rugby community about Australian Rugby being revitalised again? We can’t do it by ourselves. 

"There’s plenty of people who love rugby when the Wallabies win. We’ve got to win but we need them to maybe help start it a little more. We need everyone to do their bit in Rugby. 

"We’re not short of talented players here but talent doesn’t win World Cups. What wins World Cups and wins the hearts of people is teams who play with that same spirit the Ellas had...We want to play tough so at the end of tight games, you win those tight games. That’s the traditional Australian digger spirit. We want that in the team and that’s the opportunity for the players this year.  

"Where can we take the team? If we play like that, people will want to watch Rugby again...We want that pressure on ourselves. We want to perform. I’m only a small part of it." 

Jones refused to look past this year in terms of his overall mission for the Wallabies, eyeing the World Cup title. 

He points to the success of the Socceroos at last year's World Cup in Qatar and the power it has had in boosting fan support and perception. 

"Our plan is to win the World Cup," Jones said emphatically. "If we win the World Cup it changes things for rugby in Australia so our target is to win the World Cup then we'll worry about what happens after that. 

"To win the World Cup, we're going to take this talented group of players, who are going to have to work together to make a team that has a competitive edge over the rest of the world. 

"If you look at World Rugby at the moment, there are six teams not separated by a cigarette paper. They're so tight and the team that learns the most over the next nine months will be the team that lifts the William Webb Ellis trophy in Stade de France on the 28th of October at about 11 pm and we're intending that to be us. 

"From that, kids will want to play Rugby. You saw out there in the school, the kids, year seven kids, most of them played soccer because they watched the Socceroos and they were excited about the Matildas in the women's World Cup. 

"We need to create role models and we need to create heroes for the young kids." 

Jones’ comments come as excitement continues to build for the start of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, with just three weeks until the opening round kicks off.  

The Rebels will launch into this year’s campaign buoyed by the return of some familiar faces including the talented Lachie Anderson, Josh Kemeny and Trevor Hosea.  

A former Australian Under-20's star, Hosea has impressed players, coaches and staff with his off-season conditioning and looms as a player to watch this season, as he returns from a knee injury.  

After last weekend’s opening trial in Fiji, the Rebels will wrap up their pre-season preparations next Saturday, when both the men’s and women’s teams travel to Wagga Wagga to face the Brumbies at McDonald’s Park.  

It shapes as a year to remember for Victorian rugby fans, with the Rebels playing 7 home games against the world’s best Pacific teams, while also hosting Super Rugby’s biggest weekend of rugby, Super Round, for a second consecutive year.  

Meanwhile, Jones and his Wallabies will play their final match in Australia before this year’s World Cup, when they clash with the All Blacks at the MCG for the first time since 2007.