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The last time the Springbok team added a coach named Jones to the World Cup squad, they won the Webb Ellis Cup. That was in 2007 when Jake White brought in Eddie Jones, who was given much of the credit for the Springboks’ victory. Fast forward to 2019 and the Jones this time is Irishman Felix, who joins the squad in the place of Lions coach Swys de Bruin. Jones, a former Munster coach and Ireland international, had been strongly linked to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt’s team. The news that he has hooked up with Rassie Erasmus, his former Director of Rugby at Munster, has been greeted with a fair degree of surprise in Ireland. De Bruin was the Boks’ attack coach but pulled out of the World Cup at the 11th hour citing personal reasons. He had suffered from depression during the Lions trip to New Zealand in the Super Rugby season. Erasmus had tried to bring Jones on board when he first got the Springbok job, but the Irishman opted to stay at home. Jones could prove even more useful to the Springboks should South Africa face Ireland in the knockout stage of the World Cup. A quarterfinal clash between these two sides could be on the cards, depending on pool stage results. – David O’Sullivan
The former Irish international will join the squad in Japan on a short-term consultancy, filling a vacancy left by the withdrawal for medical reasons of Swys de Bruin.
Jones will take on a new role and not be a straight swap for attack coach, De Bruin.
“I spoke to the players after Swys decided to step down and the consensus was that we didn’t want a new attack coach,” said Erasmus, Director of Coaching at SA Rugby.
“The feeling was that bringing in someone in that role now with new ideas now would be destabilising at this last stage of the preparations.
“But they were interested in having more analysis of defensive patterns and structures to assist in breaking down the opposition.”
Erasmus said that he was fortunate that Jones was available at a time when most coaches were already engaged at club or international level.
Jones, 32, won 13 caps for Ireland at fullback or wing during a ten-year playing career with Leinster and Munster. He was part of Ireland’s 2015 Six Nations title-winning squad and also represented his country at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in 2009.
He stopped playing at the age of 28 and went straight into coaching with his last province, Munster, where he helped the team to three consecutive Heineken Cup semi-finals before leaving the province earlier this year.
In 2017 he was as an assistant coach to the Irish national coaching team for their summer tour.
“Felix will bring a fresh eye to our analysis and planning and I am looking forward to his input,” said Erasmus.
“He is a real student of the game and I believe the players will benefit from his contribution.”
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