Eddie Jones to step down as Japan coach

Japan coach Eddie Jones will step down after the Rugby World Cup to take on a “different challenge”, the Japan Rugby Football Union announced on Tuesday.

The organisation said the 55-year-old Australian, who has been the Brave Blossoms’ coach since 2012, will resign on November 1. His contract was due to expire this year.

The decision was approved by the group’s board of directors, with Jones also to quit as the director of rugby at Japan’s new Super Rugby side.

A new coach will be chosen after the World Cup starting next month, when Japan will accelerate their preparations to host the tournament in 2019.

“I believe the Japan team will further evolve towards the 2019 World Cup with an excellent coach,” Jones said in a Japanese-language statement.

“I will be taking on a different challenge, but the Japan team will always remain in my heart.

“I want to make this year’s World Cup a completion of my job as head coach,” he added.

Last week reports said Jones had agreed a two-year deal starting in 2016 with South Africa’s Stormers, and that the coach had acknowledged talks with the team.

Jones told Kyodo News agency that he had moved to end rumours and speculation about his future.

“I will not be continuing after 2015,” he told the agency in southern Japan, where the team is in training camp.

“That was always the case as my contract was until the end of the year, so all they are doing is stating the obvious.”

JRFU general secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto said it was Jones who approached his organisation about the resignation.

“We’ve made a great deal of progress under Eddie Jones. We’ve beaten strong nations and showed Japan’s true value in doing so,” Sakamoto told Kyodo.

“We had the overture from the head coach and accepted it as he was resolute in his decision.”

Jones took over from All Blacks legend John Kirwan in April 2012. He earlier guided the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final, which they lost to England.

Jones, who is half-Japanese, also served as adviser to South Africa when they won the World Cup in 2007.

Jones suffered a stroke while Japan coach in 2013, but he made a full recovery and has overseen a drastic improvement in their fortunes.

Last year the Brave Blossoms broke into the world’s top 10 after 10 straight wins culminating in victory over Six Nations side Italy.

At next month’s World Cup in England, Japan will be aiming to improve a poor record at the tournament where their only win so far was against Zimbabwe in 1991.

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