Former Brumbies and Wallabies have rallied to support Jones following what appeared to be a minor stroke in Japan on Tuesday.
- Date October 18, 2013
Sports Writer, The Canberra Times
Former Wallabies and Brumbies coach Eddie Jones is a ”perfectionist” who has built a career on an unbeatable work ethic and passion to succeed, Australian great Stephen Larkham says.
The 53-year-old, who now coaches Japan, was taken to hospital where he is said to have suffered some paralysis of his left side. According to reports, he was able to converse.
Former Brumbies coach Andy Friend said Jones was the ”Mecca” of Japanese rugby.
Friend now coaches the Canon Eagles in Japan’s Top League competition and has worked closely with Jones in developing the country’s rugby talent.
”He’s the Mecca, pretty much what he says goes over here,” Friend said. ”He’s very highly regarded.
”Japan is all about a work ethic and Eddie probably has the biggest work ethic there is in the game. He fits the Japanese culture and he’s very astute as a coach.”
Jones led Japan to victory against Wales for the first time this year.
He coached Larkham at the Brumbies and the Wallabies.
”You think the worst when you see the headline with ‘stroke’ in it,” Larkham said.
”Eddie was very dedicated and passionate as a coach. He spent a lot of hours preparing, he spent more time in the office than anyone else. He’s continued that work ethic in Japan, he’s a perfectionist and has a big workload in Japanese rugby.”
Jones was preparing the Japanese team for a historic clash against New Zealand in Tokyo on November 2.
It will the first time the All Blacks have played a Test in Japan.
Former Brumbies coach Jake White was considering flying from South Africa to Japan to be by Jones’ side.
Jones was White’s assistant coach when the Springboks won the World Cup in 2007.
Jones also led the Brumbies to a Super Rugby title in 2001 before guiding the Wallabies into the 2003 World Cup before he was sacked in 2005.
Despite being based in Japan, Jones has been a crucial element in the Brumbies’ success over the past two seasons.
White recruited him as a consultant coach and Larkham still uses Jones as a sounding board.
”He always had good honesty towards the players, he didn’t beat around the bush and was brutally honest sometimes,” Larkham said.
”He was great at getting the best out of individuals. I’ve been speaking to Eddie on and off since he finished off in Australia. I had some good meetings before I started coaching [in 2011].
”He has immense knowledge of coaching in rugby and in general and he’s great to bounce ideas off.”
Stirling Mortlock, Adam Freier and Matt Giteau were among a host of former Wallabies and Brumbies sending messages of support to Jones.
”Eddie has a very, very good work ethic and that sets that standard for everyone around him,” Jones’ Brumbies and Wallabies predecessor Rod Macqueen said.
”Eddie can be very proud of what he’s done … He’s never stopped coaching, he’s a true full-time professional coach.”
Brumbies forward coach and allround rugby union legend Laurie Fisher this week answers our readers. We thank Laurie for doing this, especially considering how his bruised Ozzie heart must be feeling in the aftermath of….let me not go there. Anyways thanks Laurie we really appreciate it.
1) Jacques asks: It always seemed that Brumbies game revolved around the break down point, which takes defense into attack, how much do you as a coach spend on the area of the game? – And what can teams do today to break this hard core defensive systems of teams, off course we all want to see more running rugby in the game.
Hi Jacques, we adopted a philosophy and developed techniques and decision making around having two arriving players on their feet hard at the ball and the tackler reloading into the defensive line at all available opportunities. We addressed our decision making and practiced our techniques every week without fail sometimes in a stand alone drill or in a more open attack\defense activity. We wanted the opposition to know they would have to work for every possession they got. To combat this approach you must be prepared to commit numbers to the breakdown both aggressively and technically sound and structure your attack around this commitment of numbers. The early targeting of a side like the Chiefs at breakdown is one way of securing a reasonable flow of quick possession.
2) Brendon asks: The brumbies gave birth to the idea of a ‘mismatch on defense’ whereby a fast back runs at a fatty. Yet this hardly ever happens today. A result of better player conditioning or has defenses just become too organized?
Hi Brendon, I think all sides are still looking for the mismatches you speak of though they can be a little harder to find these does especially in the early phases. We would have a notion of trying to find the opposition front row reasonably early from a scrum when they make be a little disoriented. Definitely players are better conditioned and defense systems increasingly well organised but opportunities still exist to work a mismatch. We would take a lot of note in our analysis of where opposition props defend and look to put fast on slower. Perhaps it is less obvious when watching games but most patterns of play revolve around either outworking your opponent or working to secure a mismatch in speed, agility or size. Running a 120kg backrower at a 10 to get gainline and quick release is a mismatch.
3) Methos asks: Do you think the way to break down defenses these days is offloading in contact ? like Sonny Bill Williams? Why is that a skill that so little players seem to cultivate?
Hi Methos, I think offload is a way not the way to break defenses down. SBW is an outstanding athlete with an outstanding skill set. Very few sides have the luxury of a players of his talent. His contribution to the Roosters success this year is enormous. Highlanders were the most offloading side in Super Rugby this year and look where it got them. If you have players with the natural ability to offload you can certainly structure support and opportunity around that. I do see great benefit in developing the outside arm offload where you can take a player on an overs line and commit the next defender to you whilst releasing the ball with the non traditional outside hand flick. I also see great benefit in developing the capacity to fend and offload simultaneously but this again requires great skill, balance and timing. My preference would be not to coach the entire team in offlload (but certainly coach support lines) but to encourage those who do it naturally and well to work it and to educate the team in how to support the offload.
4) JT asks: The breakdown has become the most important phase for any rugby game at any level however the referees seem to do what they please ? how do you plan for this? Do you analyze different referees or do the players see what they can get away with and adapt?
Hi JT, you are right the breakdown is massive in the context of the current game. We certainly analyse each referee to get an understanding of their language, their hot penalties and the general trends in their games. Our basic plan nevertheless is to develop a system that is within the law and try to minimize the influence of the referee. We put a lot of pressure on referees this year to make decisions around tackle contest and I felt we were harshly penalized on many occasions. We had many conversations with the refereeing fraternity and in the end decided that we would stick with our system of pressure at tackle contest and accept decisions as they came, (right or wrong) rather than back out of the contest and allow the opposition to play a from cleaner, quicker breakdowns. Our evolution into next season is to maintain a philosophy of hard at the contest but we must improve technique and decision making. We will not be backing off just to make the referees job easier.
5) JT asks: My coaching mentor (Pierre Villpreux) told me that he hardly spends time on scrums and line-outs and focuses mainly on game situations and prepare players to spot opportunities and be able to take advantage of these ? do you agree and how much time do the Brumbies spend on Scrum/Line-out compared to game situations?
Hi JT, we spend very little time on scrum plays as statistics would tell you that very few clean opportunities come about each game. We would have a a couple of LHS RHS CF and C Zone options that we would spend very little time on. Lineouts are a different kettle of fish and we would try and develop more variation and have more patterns available form this platform. Villepreux is right though in suggesting that unstructured attack is the most available source of possession and is potentially where you can get the biggest bang for your buck. We would spend significantly more time on attack from turnover, kick receipt and a post 3 phases than we would on 1st phase attack from scrum and Lineout. We would spend a good amount of time in developing a basic structure to our unstructured game and the understanding of the opportunities that might present within that framework. We would support that with the development of catch pass skills, footwork and acceleration skills, evasion skills, mismatch skills creating and using numbers skills, support and recycle skills and so on.
6) Craven asks: Firstly congrats on great Brumbies season. My question has to do with feeder structures at the Brumbies. I am aware of the link with Canberra University and such, but what is you main focus at the Brumbies with regards to where you next tier and future players will come from? Are there junior structures in place that you can draw from or do you have to think more creatively?
Hi Craven, Canberra is a small rugby community with 7 teams in the senior 1st grade competition. Our recruitment pool is any player anywhere who is eligible to play for Australia but it is always preferable if you can recruit closer to home. Canberra teams have always had a history of punching above their weight and it is no different today. We have traditionally relied on having an excellent program that turns amateur players into Wallabies as the key recruitment platform, and whilst we have had a few flat years we are starting to regain that ground. We have been without and Academy for the past two seasons as the ARU went to a National model and cut funding to the provinces. This has now changed with Academies returning to the provinces for 2014. We are in the process of putting more resources into improving coaching and player pathways in our own region so that in the future we can rely less heavily on external recruitment. To answer you question we do not have feeder structures like U/19 to U/21 to Development team etc. We recruit to the Super Rugby team but acknowledge the need to provide a better pathway locally to our players.
7) Americano asks: Does Willie LeRoux remind you more of David Campese or Serge Blanco? If neither ? in your opinion ? who does he remind you of?
Hi Americano, yes very Campese like. Seems to have the ball on a string with both hand and foot. Again like Campo not a real fan of the contact component of the game but gets the job done. A truly gifted player with wonderful instincts and skills.
David asks: How did the Brumbies manage to overcome what can essentially be described as shortage of decent front row forwards to perform as well as they did this year? And – In SuperRugby this year essentially the Brumbies managed to win two consecutive games in play offs by virtue of out thinking rather than out playing South African opposition. Was Jake White a part of this?
Hi David, I would argue your contention that we have a shortage of decent front rowers, in fact I was very happy with our depth of front row. Palmer, Alexander, Sio, Murphy and Smith. I do think the major ingredient in our ability to be competitive in the scrum was the contribution of all 8 forwards to the scrum. All forwards were committed to scrumming aggressively and technically well until the ball was released from the scrum. We maintain a very simple philosophy around height, spines in line and speed and the capacity to maintain pressure over an extended time. I also think we were tactically clever in when we could exert pressure and in understanding the potential weak points in opposition scrumming. Unlike some Aussie teams of the past who relied significantly on tactics our first priority was to technical excellence, all 8 buy in, and a desire to dominate physically. Jake has had a valuable input into the mentality of the Brumbies team and what we value in the game and has done a lot to ensure our energies are focused in the appropriate areas. He has a clear understanding of what he wants his teams to do and provides the opportunity for assistant coaches to develop strategy and technique appropriate to the teams direction.
9) Out Wide asks: Great year for the Brumbies. Congrats to you and Jake. You are no doubt aware of the success of the inter-provincial competition called the Currie Cup played between the major provinces in SA. Before moving from Cape Town to Christchurch in NZ 10 years ago, I thought there was nothing in the world to rival it but find that the ITM Cup as the inter-provincial comp in NZ is now called, is even bigger and more exciting because of cross divisional matches and traditions such as the Ranfurly Shield, won for the first time in 57 years this last weekend by Otago. Australia does not have the advantage of competitions such as these feeding into their Superrugby sides and many feel that this leads to a lack of player depth.
Is this a correct view or is it more to do with competition for players from the 2 other codes played in Australia? And some have pointed to the success of trans-Tasman leagues between Aussie and Kiwi sides played in football (The A league), Basketball and Rugby League and the question has been whether this should be extended to rugby union. Would Aussie sides buy into this and would it benefit their S15 sides?
Hi Out Wide. You make some very good points.Indeed the ITM and Currie Cups are great tournaments for developing both depth and quality for the professional game. Because rugby union is the primary winter sport in NZ and SA these competitions are well supported and financially viable. Rugby as you know is far from being the best supported winter sport in Australia and the competition for athletes, spectators and the sponsorship dollar have made it extremely difficult to develop any sort of national competition. Whilst club rugby in the major centres does a good job as our 3rd tier competitions it falls short of being the quality competition to provide a seamless transition into the professional game. I would love to see Australian provincial teams invited to play in a trans Tasman style ITM Cup Competition post Super Rugby. I really think we will struggle to develop any sort of coherent national competition here, especially at the back end of the year in competition to AFL and RL finals series.
Thanks Laurie. we really look forward to hearing your response to our readers questions!
Southern Kings skipper, Luke Watson, has been ruled out for the rest of the 2013 rugby season, following an injury to his ankle.
Watson, who was assessed by one of the foremost ankle specialists in Cape Town yesterday will have to undergo an operation to his ankle, followed by months of rehabilitation.
“He will have to be operated on and he will be out for six months,” said Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons at the team announcement.
Solomons announced that Centre Andries Strauss was likely to captain the Kings for the rest of the season, while lock Darron Nell would be the deputy for the Bulls’ match at the weekend, in the absence of the injured Steven Sykes.
Solomons said he believed the Eastern Cape outfit would be able to handle the absence of Watson after several setbacks prevented him from playing for much of the year.
“Luke is an excellent player, and an excellent leader, but unfortunately this season, Luke has just had a litany of injuries. He’s just had really bad luck. The first half of last year he didn’t play, then at the end of last year he hurt his ankle against the Leopards in the semi final [of the Currie Cup],” Solomons said.
“He suffered a throat injury against the Western Force and the ankle has still been worrying him. The consequence is that, through no fault of Luke’s, he has just not been able to play much rugby this year.”
“So what has happened is that the team has had to play without him, and Andries has had to step into the breach and has done a magnificent job, and we are fortunate to have guys like him and Darron here,” he said.
Solomons said that Watson’s presence would be missed.
“Of course we miss him, but we have had to play a lot of the Super Rugby without him as a necessity because of his injuries,” he said.
Centre Ronnie Cooke turned over an ankle in training this week, but he has been named in the team and Solomons said he was sure he would be fit for Saturday’s clash. However, in the event that Cooke was not able to play, Waylon Murray would be called up in his place.
Solomons also announced that Michael Killian would be returning to wing.
“Michael comes in on the right wing, he is now completely over his injury problems, and this presents a real opportunity for him to play. He is a local boy and it’s great to have him back. I know he’s champing at the bit to play,” he said.
Solomons said that neither young star Sergeal Petersen nor Siyanda Grey had been selected for the squad, as concerns over their respective injuries still lingered.
“Siyanda and Sergeal were not considered. The medical staff feel that they should not be rushed back. That said, Sergeal is coming along nicely now and took part in [yesterday’s] practice session and seemed to be running a lot more freely, which is a big positive,” he said.
Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies will be out for the rest of the 2013 rugby season after tearing a bicep muscle on Saturday while playing for the Springboks against Samoa in the Castle Lager Incoming Series.
Spies saw two specialists, one in Johannesburg and one in Pretoria for opinions and ultrasound scans revealed the damage. He will be operated on today.
According to Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss, this operation will rule Spies out for the remainder of the season.
Schalk Burger has explained exactly how a pre-season calf strain eventually resulted in him ending up in intensive care fighting off bacterial meningitis.
Mon, 03 Jun 2013 12:31
The Springbok flank has not played since February 2012, and as a result has been the subject of much speculation, with his comeback postponed a few times due to a series of complications.
He addressed the media at Newlands on Monday and gave a full explanation of how a calf injury led to an operation on a cyst near his spine which in turn resulted in serious illness.
“Obviously there has been a lot of speculation but basically what happened was I started training with the Stormers at the beginning of this year and I felt reasonably good.
“After a while, in about 40 minutes of training or so, probably the equivalent of about 3km of running, I felt some spasticity in my left calf and when that happened I started to pull up because I was scared that I would tear or pull my calf muscle.
“Eventually I went for a back scan and it showed up that I had a cyst in my back right next to my spinal chord. I went in for an operation to relieve the pressure by draining the cyst, and unfortunately I picked up a hospital bug which led to bacterial meningitis,” he said.
Burger admitted that there were a few nervous moments for his family as he fought off the meningitis in isolation.
“There was a critical stage for about four, nearly five days in which there was a lot of uncertainty. Obviously through that period I was in isolation and I was seriously ill, so ill in fact that some people around me thought ‘this is it’.”
“Luckily I got through that and also draining the cyst wasn’t good enough so they had to come up with a new gameplan and that was actually removing the cyst.
“Unfortunately after that I had to have another three back operations. Where I am at now is that I am busy recovering, the cyst has been removed completely so I am just recovering from the bacterial meningitis,” he explained.
The Stormers stalwart said that the unkown ‘hospital bug’ that he contracted during the initial operation to drain the cyst had simply been a case of bad luck which could have happened to anyone else.
“I contracted a bug which led to bacterial meningitis, but they couldn’t pinpoint exactly what bug it was. I was basically lying in isolation in a room and not able to do much.
“I hade headaches, nausea and I was getting quite a lot of convulsions – not quite seizures but it was certainly close – so I was seriously ill and that was just unfortunate.
“I suppose when you make a hole anywhere there is the chance of infection and getting a bug. That was the serious part, and that happened just after the first procedure so it was just bad luck on my behalf,” he said.
The cyst, which has been there for about the last ten years, has since been completely removed and Burger said that he is grateful that it was identified before it did any long-term damage.
“No-one is really sure what it is about, but it could be trauma-related so it could have been a rugby injury. But it was there for a long time – approximately ten years.
“I am thankful that they caught it at that stage, because if they hadn’t it could have done some long-term damage.
“The bunch of neurosurgeons working on my case decided to have a look. They drained the cyst and analysed the contents thereof, which was benign, there was nothing serious.
“Then I fell ill and I think that influenced the way I was healing so after my illness they decided to remove it completely,” he said.
Burger hopes to return to the playing field once he recovers fully from the meningitis, which could be later this year, and joked that the Stormers’ form this season is not helping the speed of his recuperation.
“I can understand now why coaches lose hair, go grey and get pretty uptight. I think it has been a year of near-misses, I don’t think we have had any luck on or off the pitch.
“I hope for my health they start winning because my nerves and my fingernails haven’t lasted too well this year,” he quipped.
By Michael de Vries
A high-performing South African student will receive a chance to study in Australia under a new scholarship announced today.
Jake White chats with a fellow former South African representative, Clyde Rathbone.
The University of Canberra Brumbies Scholarship for General Excellence, known as the ‘Jake White Scholarship’, includes University of Canberra tuition fees, subsidised accommodation and an internship with the University of Canberra Brumbies Super Rugby side.
Students who are South African citizens with a strong academic and sporting records are eligible for the scholarship.
University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker joined Jake White to launch the scholarship after the University of Canberra Brumbies Captain’s Run in Durban.
“An international outlook and sports teaching and research are major parts of life at the University of Canberra,” Professor Parker said.
“South Africans and Australians have a lot in common: we both love rugby and we both value education. I hope by giving a young South African rugby player an opportunity to study in Australia we can strengthen the links between our nations.
“University of Canberra is proud of its professional education, applied research and community links in all areas, but especially in sport. Our partnership with the Brumbies is innovative and unlike any other sponsorship arrangement in professional sport, the mutual benefits are significant and the potential is huge.”
The Brumbies will soon relocate to the University of Canberra campus as part of a unique multimillion dollar ‘sports hub’.
Jake White, who is an adjunct professor with the University, welcomed the Scholarship.
“For many students, this scholarship will be 100 per cent life changing. UC has a proven track record of placing students in good jobs and it’s exciting to think that South Africans are now able to enjoy that system too,” he said.
“I’m constantly amazed at the amount of South Africans who ask me about how they can get their own children into the University of Canberra once they’ve finished school. Emails, phone calls and letters, you name it, people are contacting me saying that they want their children to be given the best education possible.
“It’s fantastic to be making the announcement of the Jake White Scholarship today and I look forward to seeing plenty of South African students take on the challenge of living and studying in Canberra in the future.”
About the scholarship
Selection will be based on a written statement which outlines the applicant’s academic and sporting achievements.
The scholarship includes
• A fully funded full-time degree at the University of Canberra (up to a maximum of three years).
• A one-off reimbursement of $1,500 to assist with relocation costs.
• Subsidised on campus accommodation at the University of Canberra
• Access to internship opportunities with Brumbies Rugby. (of at least 10 hours per week during semester)
More information is online at: www.canberra.edu.au/jakewhite
He’s fought a deep, dark battle with depression and now Clyde Rathbone has fought his way back into the ACT Brumbies starting line-up, making his fairytale return to Super Rugby complete.
- February 11, 2013 – 4:04PM
The former Wallabies flyer will run out on the wing for the Brumbies against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night and coach Jake White hopes it sparks a return to the club’s glory days.
It will also bring up Rathbone’s 50th cap for the Australian province.
A chronic knee injury forced him to retire in 2009, but a call from White last year prompted an improbable return to the team he won a championship with in 2004.
White knew Rathbone from when the pair teamed up as captain and coach of South Africa to win the 2002 under-21 World Cup.
Rathbone battled depression and weight issues in his time away from the game.
But he’s impressed in two trial games, scoring three tries.
He has gradually built up his game time and was confident he can play the full 80 minutes.
The 31-year-old was both nervous and excited about playing, but ‘‘more excited’’.
‘‘It’s a pretty big occasion, just in the context of the last couple of years,’’ he said.
‘‘This game has been on the radar for a while and has been a focus of mine to get back for this.
‘‘And in the context of our season it’s pretty important.
‘‘Personally it’s going to be a big occasion, but I think for us as a group leading into the rest of the year this is a massive game.’’
Rathbone has been flooded with messages of support since announcing his comeback and was grateful for the support.
He said his mental-health issues meant he rated the success of his comeback in terms of his enjoyment of the game – the usual measures of games played and tries scored were no longer relevant.
But the South African product still wanted to play every game.
‘‘Saturday’s important for a lot of reasons, but at the end of the day it’s just a game of rugby and that’s allowed me to train better and prepare better and not worry about games, and be excited and stimulated by them and not frantic or anxious about them,’’ Rathbone said.
‘‘Because whatever happens on Saturday, good or bad, I’m still going to make sure I enjoy Sunday, that’s what’s important.’’
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Rathbone, who’s had to overcome hamstring and ankle problems during the pre-season, but he’s forced his way into White’s thinking regardless.
The Brumbies camp has repeatedly said the 26-time Wallaby has come back fitter, faster and stronger than in his glory days.
And White was hoping Rathbone’s return for his landmark game, along with a mouth-watering clash against the Reds, will prompt a big crowd at Canberra Stadium.
‘‘I think [Rathbone’s] done enough to select himself … one thing I’m looking for is an old player coming back hopefully to old ways in Canberra where there’s 20,000 supporters,’’ White said.
‘‘In a lot of ways we’re really getting the hype up and hoping that we can challenge the supporters in Canberra and see if we can get back to those old days.’’
White said Rathbone was a ‘‘winner’’ and brought that mentality with him.
It was one of the reason’s he made the call to Rathbone last February to tempt him out of retirement.
‘‘The fairytale story that he’s had to endure of retiring and depression, and it wasn’t done on a sentimental issue at all, it’s done on talent,’’ he said.
‘‘I think that he’s a winner … he won a junior world cup as the captain of the junior side I coached, and I think again that he is a winner.
‘‘And I’m hoping that sort of influence, both off the field and on the field, is going to be something that’s needed this year in terms of taking our team to be winners.’’
Rathbone has locked in one spot against the Reds, leaving Joe Tomane and Henry Speight to fight it out for the other.
The South African Rugby Union on Friday expressed its deep sadness at the passing of legendary former Springbok looseforward, Jan Ellis. The one-time joint record holder for the number of Springbok caps succumbed to cancer at a hospice in Pretoria after suffering from the disease for some time. He celebrated his 71st birthday in January.