Eddie Jones is reportedly set to quit the Wallabies.
The under-fire coach’s return to coach Australia has been an unmitigated disaster with the Wallabies being sent packing from the World Cup without progressing beyond the group stage for the first time.
A bombshell broke early in the Wallabies’ campaign that Jones had held a secret job interview with Japanese Rugby.
Rugby Australia stuck by Jones with chief executive Phil Waugh and chairman Hamish McLennan both saying publicly that Jones had their support despite the Wallabies campaign going off the rails on and off the field.
Waugh said there was “nothing in” the reports, while Jones said it was “bulls**t and gossip”.
Jones has suddenly made fools of everyone — including himself and McLennan.
McLennan told The Telegraph in the UK earlier this month: “We have asked him if he interviewed with Japan, and he has categorically denied it on a number of occasions, so we take him at his word”.
It has been widely reported in Japanese media that Jones is the leading contender to take up the position as head coach of the Brave Blossoms.
News Corp on Thursday morning also reported Jones is viewed by Japanese officials as the best candidate for the job.
Reports claim the 63-year-old is set to agree to a standing offer from Japan and will soon inform Rugby Australia of his decision.
Jones was contracted with Rugby Australia through to the end of the 2027 World Cup.
Japanese sports website Sponichi first reported Jones had won the fight for the top job in Japanese Rugby.
Like the Wallabies, the Brave Blossoms were sent packing early at the 2023 World Cup before coach Jamie Joseph walked away from the role.
“Current Australian national team coach Eddie Jones is expected to return as the successor to Joseph,” the story read.
“This spring, Masato Tsuchida, president of the Japan Association, with whom he has had a honeymoon relationship since his days at Suntory, contacted him.
“Contract negotiations have been held privately behind the scenes, and preparations are underway for (his) return (for the first time) since the 2015 World Cup, which led them to a historic three wins.”
Jones has close ties to Japan, having previously coached the country from 2012 to 2015, leading them to an upset win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup.
He is married to a Japanese woman, and reportedly has a close relationship with Japan Rugby Football Union president Masato Tsuchida.
He has led multiple nations to the World Cup final – first with Australia in 2003, and then with England in 2019, on top of being an adviser with South Africa when the Springboks won the 2007 tournament.
Jones has now become a villain in Australian rugby — and was booed by a crowd at the Rugby World Cup when his face was shown on the big screen before a Wallabies game.
Under Jones, the Wallabies have won just two of nine matches, defeating Georgia and Portugal during the World Cup.
Since the first edition in 1987, Australian Rugby built a once-mighty reputation through World Cup triumphs in 1991 and 1999 when the men in gold would puff their chests out and stare down the best the All Blacks, English, South African et al could muster.
That all lies in tatters now for a team that failed to get out of the group stage for the first time ever and will crawl back to Australia to lick its sizeable wounds.
It was perhaps fitting that this current squad played its last match a full week ago and was forced to sit around at a camp in France waiting for the final nail to be hammered into their coffin when Portugal failed to beat Fiji by more than seven points.