England head coach Eddie Jones is predicting next year’s Rugby Championship will be “absolutely fascinating” on the back of coaching changes and differing World Cup results.
After claiming the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time in Japan last month, the Springboks will head into the tournament with the aim of retaining their 2019 Rugby Championship crown, which they sealed with a 46-13 thrashing of Argentina in Salta in August.
They will do so with world champion head coach Rassie Erasmus overseeing procedures from a director of rugby role with the South African Rugby Union.
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By comparison, the All Blacks will name either Ian Foster or Scott Robertson as their new head coach next week following the departure of Steve Hansen to the Top League in Japan.
Whoever is instated as All Blacks boss will have to overturn New Zealand’s dismals fortunes from 2019 after they lost both their Rugby Championship and World Cup titles in what turned out to be a disappointing campaign for Hansen’s men.
Australia, meanwhile, have lured Kiwi-born Dave Rennie from the Glasgow Warriors to replace Michael Cheika as Wallabies head coach as they look to move on from a dismal showing at the World Cup, where they were bundled out in the quarter-finals by Jones’ impressive England side.
After their exit in the pool stages following defeats to England and France, Argentina will also be looking to resurrect themselves and follow in the footsteps of their Super Rugby franchise, the Jaguares, which made the Super Rugby final for the first time in their brief history in July.
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Speaking to Sport24 in South Africa as part of his promotion for his new autobiography – Eddie Jones: My Life and Rugby – Jones said the 2020 Rugby Championship was set to be an enthralling affair.
“I think it will be absolutely fascinating … a bit like the Six Nations often pans out for (excitement),” said the former Wallabies head coach and ex-Springboks assistant.
“You’ll have New Zealand absolutely desperate for revenge, with a new coach, and the players will still be hurting.
“But Australia will be immeasurably stronger under Dave Rennie, who is a very, very good coach … he’ll bring them together and they’ll play decent rugby.
“It will be a great tournament, perhaps one of the best for (a while).”
Jones predicted that Erasmus will still be a hugely influential figure for the Springboks despite his role change with the SARU.
“Rassie’s done a great job with the Springboks. As director he will have a wider range of responsibilities but at the end of the day he’ll still have a great interest in how they shift onward,” Jones said.
“Under the [current coaching group] they’ve made the country proud and they will want that to continue.”
Jones also made a bold prediction about the next World Cup in France in four years’ time, stating that the world will see a re-emergence from the hosts after back-to-back quarter-final exits in 2015 and 2019.
“I think France are going to be really dangerous; they’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
“A good sign is that they won the last U20 World Cup [in Argentina earlier this year] so they clearly have a lot of good young players coming through – they should become increasingly more dangerous over the next four years.”
In saying that, the 59-year-old, who is re-signed with England until 2021, believes his side will again be strong contenders to challenge for the 2023 title after falling short this year, where they lost 32-12 to South Africa in the final in Yokohama.
“Look, I took over an English team with a lot of potential; I certainly felt we were good enough to win the 2019 World Cup. We are the youngest team statistically to play in the final yet,” Jones told Sport24.
“If the players have the same desire they showed (for the latest World Cup) going forward, then we’ll only keep improving.”
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