SYDNEY (AP) — Rugby Australia said Monday it has hired Eddie Jones to be the head coach of the Wallabies, as well as overseeing the women's team, on a long-term deal until 2027.
It said current head coach Dave Rennie “will depart the position." He had spent three seasons with the Wallabies.
Jones previously coached the Wallabies from 2001 to 2005, including taking the team to the Rugby World Cup final in Sydney in 2003. Jones, who was fired as England coach in December, will start with Rugby Australia on Jan. 29.
“In addition to his role with the Wallabies, and in a world-first, Jones will also oversee the Wallaroos program as Rugby Australia pushes forward towards a professional future for the Women’s XVs game," a Rugby Australia statement said.
The move Monday means three major teams at this year's Rugby World Cup in France will have new coaches — Jones with Australia, Steve Borthwick, who replaced Jones, with England, and Wayne Pivac with Wales.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to come home to Australia and lead my nation to a Rugby World Cup,” Jones said. “It is going to be an immense period for Australian rugby.”
New Zealand-born Rennie managed only a 38% win rate during his coaching tenure. Last year he coached Australia to five wins in 14 tests. Jones had a 72% win rate with England.
Jones also coached Japan from 2012 to 2015 and led the team to an upset win over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“It is a major coup for Australian rugby to have the best coach in the world return home to coach the iconic Wallabies and to oversee the Wallaroos program," Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said. “Eddie’s deep understanding of our rugby system and knowledge of our player group and pathways will lift the team to the next level."
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos praised Rennie's contribution to Australian rugby.
“I would like to thank Dave for his hard work and effort with the Wallabies,” Marinos said. “We are grateful for all that he has done for Australian rugby.
“Dave has been instrumental in developing much of the depth that we see in and around the current Wallabies squad. There are a number of players that are genuine World Cup possibilities because of opportunities that Dave has provided."
Several former Wallabies have commented on social media on Rennie's sudden dismissal and the return of Jones.
“Eddie Jones as new Wallabies coach — brave and has some risk,” former Wallabies center Tim Horan tweeted. “But maybe a risk worth taking considering the Wallabies current win-loss ratio.
“Need a Bledisloe Cup and Rugby World Cup semi and Lions win to justify the decision. Strap yourself in for the ride.”
Former Wallabies backrower Simon Poidevin said Rugby Australia had made the right decision.
“The Rugby Football Union gave Australian rugby a true gift when they sacked Eddie, putting in play one of the most talented, successful and hard-working rugby coaches the world has seen,” Poidevin told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Eddie produced the best record of any England coach in history with a 72% win rate and is arguably without peer in delivering success for multiple teams in Rugby World Cup campaigns."
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