A Wallabies player has revealed that Eddie Jones held a series of “bizarre” meetings with the squad which sent mixed messages at the World Cup in France.
Rugby Australia on Tuesday confirmed that it had accepted Jones’ resignation, bringing an end to a tumultuous period in Wallabies’ history. Jones quit just 10 months into a five-year deal, after the Wallabies suffered a historic first-ever World Cup pool stage exit in France.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Wallabies player said that many of his teammates were left confused after Jones held individual meetings following their final pool match against Portugal.
“There were a couple of very bizarre meetings in the last week of the World Cup, after the Portugal game. They felt like goodbye meetings,” the player told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They were one-on-one meetings. Guys would come out and go ‘was that a goodbye? Don’t we have a plan for next year?’. Mate, it was bizarre.”
Jones replaced Dave Rennie as head coach in January, after the New Zealand was sacked following a difficult year of results in 2022.
However, the Wallabies player made a startling revelation that Rennie was widely liked by the squad.
“Looking back, I guess what they were hoping to get out of it [the review] was that Rens [Rennie] had lost the room. But it came back glowingly in favour of him,” the Wallaby player said.
“Everyone loved him and he was an incredible coach. There was no doubt we had problems with injury rates and all that, but to be honest, that review did what it needed to do.”
Jones left out experienced campaigners such as Michael Hooper, Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley from Australia’s World Cup squad, opting to take a youthful team over to France.
The decision ultimately backfired as the Wallabies lost to Wales and Fiji, which ensured that they did not progress to the playoffs for the first time at the World Cup.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, many of the players felt that 125-Test flank Hooper was disrespected by Jones.
“It [lack of leadership comments] was really disappointing and it didn’t sit well with the players at all,” the Wallabies player said.
“It felt like Eddie was trying to blame those guys for results from the last decade.
“He experimented on a style of footy [at the World Cup] that hasn’t really been done before, with a really young group.
“[It didn’t work] and he hasn’t really owned it.”
Photo: EPA/DAVE HUNT