Stormers coach sad to leave, but England hard to turn down
Jones says he couldn’t refuse a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
EDDIE JONES bade an emotional farewell to Stormers supporters yesterday, saying that he was “disappointed” to leave the union.
Jones’s tenure as Stormers coach lasted all of 14 days before he decided to take up the England head coaching job after being approached by England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU).
The England job is one of the most sought-after in world rugby, mainly because of the resources at its disposal. Jones is also likely to earn almost 10 times more than he would have earned at the Stormers in Super Rugby.
“When I started with the Stormers, I never envisaged this opportunity would come. And so while I’m excited about the opportunity to coach England, I’m very disappointed about leaving the Stormers,” Jones said in a YouTube video.
“I never looked for the job in England, they came and headhunted me. They came with this fantastic opportunity of coaching England, which is arguably the biggest international coaching job in the world.
“It was difficult to turn down and I’m so disappointed that I’m leaving the Stormers, but I hope you understand that the only reason why I did it is because it’s such a prestigious job and a once-in-alifetime opportunity for me.”
At a press conference yesterday at Newlands, Western Province Rugby Union president Thelo Wakefield said the RFU had made Jones an offer “that he couldn’t refuse”, one which would have been impossible for them to match.
“It’s a massive disappointment for us. We looked forward to a new approach and new ideas, a fresh approach for the Stormers. He is a man with international experience.
“But we felt that we wouldn’t stand in his way, because no one in South Africa can compete with the pound. There is no way that we could have matched the offer.”
The Stormers did get some compensation for Jones, who had signed a three-year contract with the union before the recently concluded Rugby World Cup.
Jones’s stock soared during the sport’s showpiece event when his team, minnows Japan, beat the Springboks. He also led the Asian team to three victories at the World Cup. Wakefield said: “There is a transfer fee involved. I’m not going to divulge the figure.
“We signed a confidentiality agreement and that is the matter between the RFU and the Western Province Rugby Union.
“But be assured of the fact that it’s not R15 million that has been reported in some newspapers. I think it’s irresponsible to mention a figure of that kind.
WP director of rugby, Gert Smal, was tight- lipped about whether or not Jones’s contract had a “get-out” clause, which is common in soccer.
“I can’t comment if there was a get-out clause. (I) will check with the powers that be,” he said.
Jones will travel back to Cape Town next month to assist the Stormers for a couple of weeks before the next coach takes over.
Smal said yesterday about six coaches were interested in the job, but he declined to name any names. However, it seems former All Blacks coach John Mitchell is front runner.
Jones said: “Part of me will always be with the Stormers, and I will still assist in making sure the team prepares for the season ahead as well as possible,” Jones said.
HI AND BYE: Eddie Jones at Newlands Stadium this month.