Eddie Jones makes stunning Australia return as World Cup meeting with England looms

Eddie Jones makes stunning Australia return as World Cup meeting with England looms

Eddie Jones has made a stunning Test return as Australia head coach – setting the new Wallabies boss on a World Cup quarter-final collision course with his former employers England.

Australia have sacked Dave Rennie and installed Jones as head coach, snapping up the 62-year-old free agent who was dismissed by England in December.

Just hours before new England boss Steve Borthwick was due announce his Six Nations squad at Twickenham, the ever-wily Jones seized the spotlight with his unveiling with the Wallabies.

English supremo Bill Sweeney admitted in December he would be “amazed” if Jones did not take up a role with Australia. But the RFU chief executive did not in all probability expect that job to be head coach.

England could face Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals in France in the autumn, and the devilish part of Jones will already be hoping he could knock over his old charges.

Jones led Australia to the 2003 World Cup final only to be edged out by England, in his first Wallabies head coach stint, between 2001 and 2005.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to come home to Australia and lead my nation to a Rugby World Cup,” said Jones, who has signed a deal to lead Australia until after the 2027 World Cup.

“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.

“If we can have everyone fit and healthy going into the World Cup this year, I am confident that we can go to France and break the 24-year drought of winning the Rugby World Cup.

“I am really looking forward to getting back home and getting stuck in.”

Jones will also oversee the Australia women Wallaroos side, and will start work on January 29.

The former Japan boss was sacked by England on December 7, after England’s worst calendar-year results since 2008 in a dispiriting 2022.

England won just five of 12 Tests, with Jones paying the price and Leicester coach Borthwick later installed as replacement.

English union supremo Sweeney insisted a World Cup quarter-final against an Australia set-up including Jones would prove a “great day”, but that was far easier to herald in the abstract.

Jones previously coached Australia between 2001 and 2005 (Getty Images)
Jones previously coached Australia between 2001 and 2005 (Getty Images)

Sweeney came under fire in a gruelling 2022 amid Wasps and Worcester falling into administration.

Jones’ immediate resurfacing as a frontline Test coach will only intensify scrutiny on the RFU CEO.

England were unable to impose any kind of non-compete scenario on sacking Jones, leaving the taskmaster boss free to take up whatever job he wanted.

Jones led England to the 2019 World Cup final, and had focused all efforts on avenging the 32-12 defeat by South Africa at the next global gathering.

Sweeney declared “you can’t have an obsession with a World Cup once every four years” after Jones’ dismissal.

If Australia do tee up that quarter-final showdown in France, Jones will make absolutely no apology for that World Cup fixation.