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EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Jones on Japan’s legacy and next steps for England

SOUTH Africa may have broken English hearts in Yokohama by matching the All Blacks’ hat-trick of tournament titles, but Eddie Jones believes the host nation of this year’s Rugby World Cup have as much cause to celebrate.

Speaking exclusively to Wooden Spoon, England’s head coach is confident Japan can capitalise on staging the sport’s showcase competition – and the string of heroic performances that took them to the quarter-finals – for generations to come.

The Australian, who led the Brave Blossoms to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and masterminded their shock victory over the Springboks in Brighton four years ago, said: “I think there is one [a legacy] already.

“Post the last World Cup, I’ve been around to various parts of the country and in some areas the number of kids playing rugby has increased by 25 per cent and I would imagine that after this World Cup there will be a similar increase.

“That means rugby becomes a more popular sport, people want to be involved in it, want to support it and if they can get the top end of the game to continue to grow it will mean Japan can continue to play tier one tests.”

Part Japanese, Eddie is rightly proud of the significant role he has played in helping Japan emerge as a formidable and entertaining team and is delighted for his former charges.

“You feel like you’ve done something positive,” he told the children’s charity of rugby. “We now have another proper rugby country in the world. They are a country all tier one teams want to play, they have shown they can compete at the highest level and have shown they can host big rugby tournaments.

“It’s great to be part of creating something that has made the rugby landscape better.”

England’s recovery

Eddie’s joy for Japan contrasts sharply with the pain he suffered watching his current crop of players fail to crown his impressive four-year tenure of the Red Rose with victory on the grandest stage.

While bruising, the disappointment of England’s 32-12 World Cup final defeat to the Springboks has not derailed the coach’s drive for future success in the sport.

“You are going to go through a grieving process, which I’ve been through, and now I’m in the recovery period,” said Eddie, who has a contract with England until 2021. “I am not far away from getting back on the horse.”

Of the squad who came desperately close to emulating the success of Jonny Wilkinson and company, he added: “It’s a challenge for each player to find a way to get over it. There is no group thing, it is individual.

“Some players will bounce back and be right in their first game and others may take three or four games or half a year.”

Read more from Eddie Jones on our website next week, and read an exclusive interview with him in the next edition of Spoonews.