Eddie Jones. And taking it to the next level

16 April 2024, Tuesday

The arrival of Eddie Jones in Cape Town is like a breath of fresh air for South African rugby.

Jones who master – minded Japan’s recent 34-32 over the Springboks has a brilliant rugby mind – a master strategist with a clear focus on what needs to be done.

He guides teams to play to their strengths – whilst eliminating their weaknesses. He’s brutally honest and not scared of a much needed reality check for South African rugby.
Jones is a firm believer in playing your core game.

For Australia he believes that is to be ‘adventurous and a bit arrogant’. For South Africa it is about’ physicality and gees’. But these traits alone will not win World Cups.

The world has long ago caught up on the physicality of rugby, and skills training is now paramount if one wants to win at the top level.
Teams must also ensure they eliminate their weaknesses.

For example, Jones has already identified the play of Damian de Allende. Whilst most rugby pundits were singing his praises, Jones sees a distinct weakness in his current style of play.
Now do not read this wrong. Damian de Allende has a fine set of rugby talents, but his skills need further development if he is to become a world class player.

The statistics are plain to read. De Allende goes to ground with the ball – nine times out of ten. Yet, players like Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu seldom ever go to ground.

It’s this genius ability to ‘off lay the rugby ball in the tackle‘ that sets them apart.

Going to ground with the ball exponentially reduces any team’s ability to crack open defenses – as the one or two seconds lost on the ground , allows all the opposing loose forwards to catch up with play. At RWC ’15, players like Hooper and Pocock thrived on any such weakness. They regard a player who has an inability to pass and ‘off lay ‘– as an ‘early Christmas present.

Eddie Jones has already stated that he wants

Damian de Allende to be like Ma’a Nonu .

And he’s sure to get it right via an increased focus on skills training. Damian de Allende has the makings of a great rugby player – if he takes heed of Jones’s ‘game changing ‘coaching insights.
And if one looks at history, it most certainly can be done .

Take Hashim Amla. At the start of his of his international career he was regarded as a walking wicket to the short pitched ball.

Now look at him.
And, so to was Ma’a  Nonu regarded as a ‘crash and bash‘ player in the early part of his career.

C’mon Mr. Jones – with your special plans to take our players to the next level.



 Rob’s new book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE to readers as an instant digital download on his site : www.thegameplan.co.za