A butterfly flaps its wings in Japan and the ripples are felt around the world.
The ripples from Japan’s victory over South Africa in the 2015 RWC were clearly felt strongly by the RFU. Indeed these ripples were strong enough to shake enough cash out of the RFU to snatch Eddie from the grips of the Stormers.
Two Six Nations titles and a 96% winning percentage later the ‘Eddie Jones effect’ shows no signs of dissipating. So why have the English responded so positively to the Australian?
1. Eddie is the smiling assassin
Eddie’s sense of humour is very English. He is dry and ironic and has some great one-liners. It should not be underestimated how far this goes with the English. No one likes being told they aren’t good enough. But if you like the bloke who tells you, you can swallow it a lot better.
The English don’t tend to warm to someone that seems to be lacking in personality or is just too serious. This may be where the criticisms of Stuart Lancaster being too much like a school teacher came from? Eddie can be very intense, don’t get me wrong, but he can also make you laugh.
2. Eddie Trains Smart
Eddie’s training principle of tactical periodisation has been well documented and praised. However, any training method is only as good as the ‘buy in’ from the players. England seem to have bought this one in a big way! They now pride themselves on training quicker and at a higher intensity than other teams. This may not actually be true but the perception in players’ heads of feeling more prepared than other teams has clearly boosted their self-belief.
A key feature of Eddie’s coaching is that it is not just the physical speed but the dynamic shifting between tactical situations that trains a player to adapt quickly without getting flustered. The term ‘transition’ is a coaching buzzword we are starting to hear more of. The All Blacks have notoriously been the quickest and most accurate when transitioning from defence to attack. This is Eddie’s attempt to catch up.
3. Eddie is well travelled
I could say Eddie is experienced, but it is the fact that he has gained his experience all over the world that gives him the edge over more domestically bound coaches. He knows which stats to pay attention to and which to ignore. He has made mistakes and learned from them. And he knows not to fight against the culture of a country but to ‘manipulate’ it.
Essentially we are getting Eddie 3.0; the best version of him so far. In this way, we have seen Eddie initially build his team on the key traditional English principles of a powerful set piece, big defence and clever kicking. It is only now we see the English trying to revolutionise their attack.
How effectively they do this will determine if they can ever get to that elusive tag of the best team in the world.
Author: Rugby Analyst
International rugby analysis, discussion & comment of England, Wales, Ireland & Scotland.