Roger Alton

Is Eddie Jones’s fate written in the stars?

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Something is happening here, and you do know what it is, don’t you Mr Jones? Stargazers – and even some more grounded folk – reckon it’s written in the heavens: that the team Eddie Jones was supposed to have been coaching will meet the team he will be coaching in the rugby world cup final on Saturday 28 October in the Stade de France in Paris.

Jones, jilted last month after a seven-year relationship with England, the team he was preparing for the tournament that starts in France on 8 September, has this week been welcomed back into the arms of his former flame, Australia (also the nation of his birth), with whom he enjoyed a four-year partnership from 2001-5. And so it’s entirely possible that 20 years on from England’s gripping victory in the 2003 final they will find themselves up against an Australia side coached by the irrepressible Mr Jones, who will be 63 this month.

You have to say it wasn’t a particularly smart move of England’s to defenestrate Jones just when they did

You have to say it was not a particularly smart move of England’s to defenestrate Jones just when they did – were they swayed too much by the boos from the court of the Twickenham Barbours? – and a ruthlessly practical one by Australia (no change there, then) to snap him up. It is good for the sport, because Jones is an entertainer; he’s box office. And it makes the world cup even sexier. I’m not sure I would recognise his predecessor, Dave Rennie, in the street. Jones may have faltered towards the end of his tenure with England but he had a better win record – 73 per cent – than any previous England coach and has been particularly effective in world cups. And no one knows better the strengths and weaknesses of the England team, if they do meet in either a quarter-final or the final.

In a pretty compelling Premier League season, the sight of giants falling is one of the most extraordinary: it’s in slow motion, like the changing of the seasons.

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