With one Rugby World Cup win, two runners-up finishes and the biggest shock in the tournament’s history on his coaching CV, Eddie Jones’ record on the game’s biggest stage stands right up there with the best of them.

While the big prize has so far eluded him as head coach, Jones was an important member of the Springboks’ backroom team when they won their second title in 2007.

Jones’ unique perspective on the game was highly valued by then Springbok head coach Jake White, and while he stayed relatively quiet in the shadows, by his own standards at least, the former Randwick hooker’s contribution was not lost on those in the know.

South Africa defeated England 15-6 and after the players went up to receive their medals at the Stade de France, White stepped aside to allow Jones to collect his first in recognition of the impact he had made.

Bryan Habana was one of the superstars of Rugby World Cup 2007 and currently holds the men’s record with Jonah Lomu for most tournament tries (15). For him, Jones’ time as a consultant with the Springboks may have been short (13 weeks), but it made a big difference in their bid to conquer the rugby world.

“He just gave us little nuggets of wisdom, an insight into how outsiders saw us. He has an incredible rugby brain. His nuances are some of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Habana.

Five-year deal

Jones turns 63 at the end of this month but age has not tempered his enthusiasm to fill in the obvious gap on his otherwise stellar CV.

Twice he has been close to glory. He was in charge of his native Australia when they made it to the final in 2003 only to be beaten in extra-time by England, with whom he then reached his second final, the 2019 defeat to South Africa.

Now he will get another go, once again as Australia’s head coach following the Wallabies’ decision to dispense with Dave Rennie’s services and reemploy the man who coached them between 2001 and 2005.

The news comes barely a month after Jones was shown the door by England and while not quite on the same scale as Japan’s 34-32 win against South Africa that he presided over at Rugby World Cup 2015, Monday’s announcement took plenty of people by surprise.

Jones, who begins his role on 29 January, has signed a five-year deal through to 2027, with his contract covering two Rugby World Cups and the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025. He will also oversee the Australian women’s programme as the Wallaroos look to build on their performances at Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand last year.

"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 – as a proud Australian, it is a great honour to be able to come home and lead the national team during these years."

Master and pupil

Australia, of course, are not the underdogs that Japan were back in 2015, when they famously beat South Africa 34-32 in Brighton with Jones at the helm, but to turn a side that only won four tests in 2022 into world champions in just nine months would be some achievement.

Remember, Jones had well over three years to transform England’s fortunes in the wake of their Rugby World Cup 2015 failure when they became the first host nation to fail to make it out of their pool.

Australia are in Pool C along with Wales, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal at Rugby World Cup 2023, and if results follow the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, they will face England in the quarter-finals.

While the chance to put one over his employers for seven years adds another layer of excitement to one of sports great rivalries, Jones will also come up against his former protégé and successor as England head coach in Steve Borthwick.

Borthwick cut his teeth in international coaching under Jones with Japan and then England before successfully moving into club rugby. It could be a match made in heaven.

Eddie Jones: RWC Head coach record (Australia, Japan, England): P 17, W 14, D0, L3, PF 633, PA 253, 82% win