England coach Eddie Jones has revealed how he believes he ruined his chances of directing the British and Irish Lions.
Jones has given his account of events in his biography Eddie Jones – My Life and Rugby.
The well-travelled and highly respected coach believes that he had a shot at the Lions job in 2021 before he made a string of off-colour comments.
Eddie Jones mouth lands him in the soup
Jones has turned England into contenders for top honours in just four years after their embarrassing exit from the 2015 tournament at the group stage.
He was one of the frontrunners for the job that eventually went to Warren Gatland for the third time, but Jones’ sense of humour cost him dearly.
Jones has outlined two incidents that he believes cost him the job for the 2021 tour to South Africa. The first came in 2017 while he was in Japan for a corporate event.
“In my attempt to amuse the Japanese audience I referred to the ‘scummy Irish’ and Wales as a ‘little s**t place’. I was embarrassed. Not only because the slurs weren’t funny but because they weren’t my real views. I was going for a cheap laugh. While it was clear in the video that I was smiling and joking, it looked bad. It was bad,” Jones writes in his biography.
As bad as the comments were Jones still had a shot at the job until an off-the-cuff interview with a journalist from Brisbane blew up.
“I have for a long time wanted to coach the British & Irish Lions,” he recounts.
“I still hope that, one day, I might get the opportunity. Apart from telling Pemby (communications adviser David Pembroke), I’d kept it a secret that I had set my sights on the 2021 tour of South Africa. That will be one of the great tours in the history of world rugby.
“In preparation, we were keeping our powder dry and saying all the right things about how you have to be asked before you could consider it. But then I got a long-distance phone call from a journalist in Brisbane. I tried to have a laugh with him and said: ‘The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer. That’s an ambassador job. I’m a coach. I’d rather coach the Queensland Sheffield Shield (cricket) team.’ Again, it was a terrible lapse of judgement.
“Pemby was straight on the phone: ‘Mate,’ he said incredulously, ‘I thought you wanted to do the Lions job?’
“‘I do,’ I said sheepishly. ‘Well, you can safely say that ship has sailed, mate. Seriously, you really make it hard for yourself sometimes’”.
Jones is currently coaching the Barbarians on their November tour, the invitational side lost 33-29 in a classic Baa-baas encounter with Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.