Aussie legend Tim Horan also told the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter FitzSimons: “I know it’s true. I’ve heard it separately from my own sources. Maybe he thought if it goes pear-shaped, like it has, Japan is his back-up plan.”
After a report from CODE Sports’ Jamie Pandaram, it appears as though Jones may need to take the back-up plan as the Wallabies exodus continues.
Highly respected general manager Chris Webb, who the report says is “one of his most trusted colleagues”, has reportedly resigned in the latest big name exit.
Pandaram added that Webb did have other projects lined up before the World Cup, but the move has left Jones “disappointed”.
Although most of the staff were only contracted until the end of the World Cup, the list of exits has still included assistant coaches Jason Ryles, Brett Hodgson, Dan Palmer, Neil Hatley, Pierre-Henry Broncan and Berrick Barnes, while Brad Davis quit on the eve of the tournament.
The report calls the move not to re-sign staff brought in by Jones, including team psychologists, “shows a line in the sand is being drawn”.
It also says that Jones has clauses in his contract which would allow him to exit if Rugby Australia fails to secure private investment funding and a centralised model, but that there are also clauses in the governing body’s favour that would avoid the game needing to pay out the full term.
Currently the RA centralisation model is being fought by several states, while the game’s chairman Hamish McLennan applied for a loan of up to $90m after private investment offers were less than was expected.
Pandaram reported in September that Rugby Australia had been seeking between $150-200 million in exchange for 20 per cent of the ownership in the game.
Investors were reportedly not convinced of a significant increase in the next broadcast deal. Currently, the rights to rugby union in Australia is held by Nine and Stan Sport at around $33m per year until the end of 2025.
Jones is currently in Wales to coach the Barbarians against Wales on November 4.
But with the clean-out currently in full swing, Jones’ future will likely be decided by Rugby Australia’s independent review into Australia’s performance in France.
Speaking less than a fortnight ago, Jones said: “I’ve always been committed to Australian rugby and I want to leave it in a better place, and that’s still the job.
“(Staying in the Wallabies job) is not absolutely my decision, is it? We’ve got a review going forward and we’ll see what happens at the end of the review.”