Eddie Jones has been compared to former Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock after Wales all but ended Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
Warren Gatland’s men triumphed 40-6 over the Wallabies in Lyon on Sunday evening, condemning the latter to their heaviest defeat in Rugby World Cup history and effectively eliminating them from the tournament.
Although mathematically still alive, Australia must beat Portugal on Sunday and hope Fiji loses to both Portugal and Georgia.
It means Jones needs a miracle now to prevent his team from becoming the first Australian team ever to exit the World Cup in the group stages.
And the former England coach was devastated by the Australian media in the aftermath of the defeat, with the Daily Telegraph describing it as ‘the darkest day’ in Wallabies history.
Eddie Jones apologized for Australia’s embarrassing World Cup performance in France
The Wallabies are all but eliminated from the tournament after being defeated 40-6 by Wales
“If Eddie Jones doesn’t get sacked, will the last person still supporting Aussie rugby please turn off the lights,” reads the headline on the back page, accompanied by Jones’ portrait in a light bulb.
The choice of photo pays tribute to The Sun’s famous front page on the day of the 1992 British General Election.
“If Kinnock wins today, please turn off the lights for the last person leaving Britain,” read the headline next to a photo of the then Labor leader in a light bulb.
Two days later the newspaper proclaimed that its influence had been crucial to the Conservatives’ unexpected 21-seat majority, under the famous headline ‘It’s the sun that won it’.
Whether the Telegraph can be as influential in ousting Jones remains to be seen, with the 63-year-old insisting he remains committed to the Wallabies.
According to reports in Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Jones was interviewed for the role of head coach of Japan on the eve of this World Cup in France, but fired back when asked to comment on the reports.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, buddy,” Jones said in his post-match press conference.
“I am committed to coaching Australia. I take umbrage at the questioning about my commitment to Australian rugby. Questioning my commitment to the job is burning hot.”
The Daily Telegraph attacked Jones after the Wallabies’ dismal loss to Wales
Their front page was a clear nod to The Sun’s famous front page ahead of the 1992 British general election, in which the newspaper urged its readers to vote for the Conservatives.
Jones admitted the state of Australian rugby looked a mess from the outside but said he was confident he could change things for the better.
“Sometimes games like this make a good team move forward,” he said.
‘I think I have the ability to turn things around. I didn’t do a good enough job.’
Writing in the Telegraph, Alan Jones called on Wallabies coach and Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan to resign.
“If there is any decency, dignity or concern for the rugby family within Rugby Australia, Hamish McLennan and the coach, Eddie Jones, should be out today,” he wrote.
In the same paper, Jamie Pandaram warned that Australian rugby is at risk of becoming an amateur sport, “the disastrous decline of the game overseen by decades of failed administrative and coaching decisions.”
In January, McLennan sacked Dave Rennie after winning just 13 of his 38 Tests and hiring Jones to much fanfare after the RFU terminated his deal.
But while McLennan’s aim was to get Australian rugby on track ahead of the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and a World Cup on home soil in four years, Jones has won just one of his eight Tests led.
“Jones has completely lost the confidence of the Australian rugby public and will be given his marching orders if RA are to retain some of their dwindling fan base,” Pandaram wrote.
“It cannot be overestimated how much damage has been done by Jones and this World Cup campaign.”
Jones said he took umbrage at suggestions he was not focused on the Wallabies job, amid speculation he had spoken to the Japan Rugby Federation ahead of the World Cup.
And Jones did not shy away from his role in the debacle in France.
“I would like to apologize to the Australian supporters,” said Jones, who led the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final.
‘Our performance was not at the required level. I take full responsibility for that and apologize.
“I came back to Australian rugby to try and help,” he said. “I’m not giving much help at the moment, am I?” I am a proud Australian and we need to improve all of Australian rugby.”