Storm­ers coach sad to leave, but Eng­land hard to turn down

Jones says he couldn’t refuse a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JOHN GO­LIATH

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.

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

HI AND BYE: Ed­die Jones at New­lands Sta­dium this month.

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