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19th Sep 2019

England coach Eddie Jones on how he made Japan a force in world rugby

England coach Eddie Jones visited the birthplace of rugby in Japan, home of Asia's first club. Jones himself coached the side from 2012 to 2015

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England coach Eddie Jones visited the home of Japanese rugby together with ex-England fullback Ugo Monye

Although he is now looking for global success with England, Jones was himself Japan coach from 2012 to 2015. He oversaw the 2015 toppling of South Africa in one of rugby’s greatest ever upsets.

Jones’ grounding in Japan doesn’t stop there, though. He was born to a Japanese mother and Australian father, two nations with diverse, cultural approaches to sport.

With Ugo Monye, Jones visited Yokohama Country & Athletic Club – Asia’s first ever rugby club, established in the late 1800s. This club is very much the birthplace of Japanese rugby. Although the game has been dominated by southern hemisphere sides such as Australia and New Zealand, Japanese are by some margin the most competent Asian side. This owes a lot to values that go back centuries.

Historically, Japanese sport is enshrined in Bushido values, and so is their rugby culture too, Jones says.

“It’s about respect and integrity – Japan will be the complete opposite of what fans expect”, Jones said.

Although most people might think of England, the home nations and the big southern hemisphere sides as the ‘home’ of rugby union, it is this history of Bushido values which make Japan an ideal home for the sport.

Jones continued: “The Samurais were the original warriors of Japan. They were the defenders of Japan who fought off invaders for centuries.”

It is this cultural unity which Jones says he built on when turning Japan from a marginalised rugby nation to one that now sits in the world top 10.

“Bushido is about respect and a code of honour”, the England coach said. He turned them from a side on the receiving end of tier one humiliations, to a squad capable of toppling giants.

Jones’ England squad was announced paying particular homage to the grassroots background of each player involved.

When pressed by Monye, Jones shed some light on the specific values within Bushido culture that make Japan a force to be reckoned with on the world rugby stage.

He said:

  • Duty: looking after your person, and your family
  • Courage: how you feel the game should be played
  • Respect: respecting the differences of others but within a shared goal and aspiration
  • Loyalty: doing everything you can to perform at your best, and respecting others who follow suit
  • Integrity: understanding and believing in your team’s goal, and understanding your role in that

These are all values which Jones has embedded into the psyche of his England squad.

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