New Wallabies boss Eddie Jones has penned a lengthy open letter to Australian rugby fans on the opening weekend of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season. The tournament kicked off for Aussie teams with the Waratahs hosting the Brumbies in Sydney on Friday, with the Reds hosting the Hurricanes and the Force at home to the Rebels on Saturday.
Jones spoke at his media briefing unveiling last month about wanting crowds to attend franchise matches in large numbers and he has now followed up this desire by contacting fans via a letter circulated by rugby.co.au which he began by expressing his amazement that he was so suddenly back working in Australian rugby.
He had originally been contracted to take England through to the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, employment that would this weekend have seen him coaching the English versus Wales in Cardiff in the Guinness Six Nations.
However, he was abruptly dismissed from that role in early December after just a single Autumn Nations Series win in four Twickenham matches and Rugby Australia moved quickly after that to recruit Jones as an immediate effect replacement with the Wallabies for Dave Rennie through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
Here is the Jones letter in full about being so suddenly in charge of the Wallabies and his take on the new club season: “Tonight, Australia’s Super Rugby players return to competition. The meaningful contest for Super Rugby competition points and Wallabies team positions begins. In a Rugby World Cup year, as a coach, you always expect to see more. You expect the best from the players.
“I’m still shaking my head as to how I ended up here as Wallabies coach. There was the swift and unexpected departure from my job as coach of England in London, a brief period of contemplation in Tokyo and a decision; then arrival in Sydney. There were plenty of people telling me not to do it. There was the comfortable option of sitting in a commentary box and helping some tier-two teams get ready for the World Cup but when Hamish McLennan came knocking, he wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“The chance to coach my home country at the Rugby World Cup in France was an opportunity too good to pass up. Hamish made the point that you just never know what is around the corner. This chance was never going to come again. In the end, it was an easy yes. Since then, it’s been all go. Meetings with staff and senior players and visits to trial matches in Griffith and Narrabri confirmed what I already knew from afar.
“Australia has the talent to win the Rugby World Cup in Paris on October 29. Right now, we don’t have the team, but we do have the talent. We also don’t have a clear path from where we start today to where we want to end up. Ultimately, that path will be carved by the Australian players and the choices they make between now and then. That path will be created by the standards the players set for themselves and their teammates.
“It will be about the things they are prepared to give up and miss out on. Coming off a short preparation and with a win record of 13 from the past 35 matches, the Wallabies winning the Rugby World Cup will take a supreme effort against high-quality opposition. During Super Rugby, I will be watching to see how the players apply themselves not only during the games but in the warmups and warm-downs. How they perform and present themselves on and off the field.
“I will be looking to see how they communicate and how they work to improve their Super teams and their teammates. I’ll be looking for players who are working harder than they have ever worked before and who are being genuinely honest with themselves and their coaches.
“Australia needs players who are curious and bring new ideas and fresh thinking to the task of making the Wallabies the best team in the world. We need players who are disciplined and determined and desperately want to win. Players who are accountable, who are prepared to break new ground and who keep setting the bar higher for themselves and their teammates.
“Every decision they make must be a decision that takes us forward to our goal of winning the Rugby World Cup. My job is to create a Wallabies team environment where players flourish but ultimately to be successful, it must be the players that drive it.
“We start the Super competition with a couple of local derbies and the Reds hosting the Hurricanes in Townsville. The Waratahs vs Brumbies on Friday and the Force vs Rebels on Saturday are an opportunity for players to line up against the other players who want the same Wallabies jersey. These one-on-one contests are meaningful and important. I always say that players select themselves and I can’t wait to see which players emerge to demand selection.
“As we start this year, there are players in the Super Rugby squads who are hiding in plain sight. They are the players who may not yet have the reputation but are prepared to make the sacrifices and go the extra mile. They are the players who may previously have not been selected for the national team because they didn’t put the effort in.
“All I can say to each and every one of our Super Rugby players is that we will be watching and that ultimately it will be up to you. I’d encourage you to think of the prize of being in a World Cup-winning team.
“Being part of a World Cup-winning squad is a memory that can never be taken from you. An achievement that will be with you forever. But they are memories that must be earned by the effort and sacrifice you are prepared to bring. Enjoy the season, work hard and yes, I will be watching.”