Rugby Australia boss’ damning Eddie admission

Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh says he would deem it disloyal if Wallabies coach Eddie Jones was interviewed by Japanese rugby officials only days out from the World Cup getting underway.

Waugh was grilled by journalist Chris O’Keefe on 2GB radio on Wednesday night, on the back of Australia’s worst-ever World Cup campaign and Jones’ first press conference since touching back down in Australia.

Waugh was asked if the Wallabies’ botched World Cup campaign was due to the coach reportedly having “one foot out of the camp before he was even on the plane”.

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“Well, if that becomes evident then clearly that would be very, very disappointing,” Waugh said.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Tom Decent reported that Jones held a Zoom interview with Japenese rugby officials two days out from a Wallabies warm-up match against France.

When asked if Jones reportedly speaking to the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) was “disloyal”, Waugh said: “Well, I think that anyone of a reasonable mind would say that if those conversations did occur going into a World Cup then … that would be an appropriate assumption.”

Waugh denied that remark being a “big call”.

“I think it’d be fair to say that if those conversations were occurring in the middle of a World Cup campaign for Australia at a World Cup we were going to win, then it’d be disappointing,” Waugh said.

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The Rugby Australia boss laughed when asked if Jones had breached his contract by reportedly talking to the JRFU.

“Contracts are interesting, as you know, so I’m not going to get into the legalities of the wording within a contract,” Waugh said.

When it was put to Waugh that Jones was clearly “playing for a pay-out”, the Rugby Australia boss said: “Well, I mean, as I said, [there’s] speculation on a lot of those things.”

At the beginning of the interview, Waugh had reiterated that he believed Jones’ denial of the reports.

“Well, I mean, as I’ve said quite publicly, Eddie’s said to me that he hasn’t had that [interview] and he’s said that to me a number of times, and I’ll take him for his word,” Waugh said.

“I mean, it’s not my responsibility to speculate or go and talk to the Japanese Rugby Football Union and ask them whether they’ve met with Eddie.

“But as I’ve said, Eddie’s said no.

“Everyone would be very, very disappointed if he had [talked to the JRFU], particularly given the stage we were at going into the World Cup, and as we go forward that’ll become clear.”

The tournament in France marked Australia’s biggest-ever World Cup loss, its heaviest defeat to Wales ever and, of greatest significance, the first time it’d failed to reach the quarter-finals.

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