Guilt-free Jones denies early interview in Japan reveal

Eddie Jones says his Wallabies exit to join Japan sits well with him, the coach maintaining he hadn't been in talks for the job until after Australia's failed World Cup campaign.

Jones was unveiled as the Brave Blossoms' coach in a press conference at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday night.

It was first reported in September that Jones had been interviewed by the Japanese Rugby Football Union (JRFU) in August, two days before the Wallabies' World Cup warm-up Test against France.

The Wallabies then endured a historically poor Cup campaign, bounced out before the quarter-finals for the first time.

Jones has continuously denied that the August interview took place, and doubled down again when pressed on Thursday, saying the first and only interview occurred this month.

Australia's Eddie Jones (left) with Masato Tsuchida.
Australia's Eddie Jones (left) with Japan Rugby Football Union president Masato Tsuchida.

Sitting alongside Jones, JRFU president Masato Tsuchida interjected to explain that a recruitment agency representing the organisation had initially contacted Jones, but only to ask for his advice on filling the vacancy left by Jamie Joseph.

"I didn't do an interview before the World Cup," Jones said.

"I was asked by the recruitment agency to share my experiences with them on Japan.

"Some people might have construed that as an interview, it certainly wasn't an interview."

Jones said he doesn't feel "any guilt" and that he left because Rugby Australia couldn't accommodate his needs.

"Apologise to Australian fans? Mate, yep, I gave everything I could in that short period of time and it wasn't good enough," said the 63-year-old, whose mother and wife are Japanese.

"I had a plan of what we needed to do to change Australian rugby. We weren't able to do that, Rugby Australia weren't able to support that.

"I decided to move on and I wish Australia all the best.

"I feel terrible about the results of Australia - I wanted to go back and change Australia.

"But I don't feel any guilt at all about this process."

It will be the second time Jones has taken charge of the Brave Blossoms, following a three-year posting from 2012 highlighted by a shock World Cup defeat of South Africa.

Eddie Jones
Jones during his first spell as Japan coach back in 2015.

Axed as England coach in December, Jones was quickly snapped up by Australia at Dave Rennie's expense.

But that long-term deal lasted just nine months, the circumstances around Jones's exit causing uproar in rugby circles and contributing to the ousting of Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McClennan.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I can't control their opinion," Jones said of the backlash in Australia.

"The only thing I can control is what I did, and it sits well with me mate, I don't have a problem with it."

Jones said his aim was to make Japan a top-four rugby nation, while forging a “real identity” and a team that has “a point of difference.”

“I feel how important rugby is to Japanese society now,” the 63-year-old said. "When I coached Japan in 2015, we hadn't won a game in 24 years at the World Cup, and it wasn't a team the Japanese public loved.

“Now we have a team the public love, rugby is a major player in society, and to be part of the push for Japan to be in the top eight, top four in the world is an exciting opportunity. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it."

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