COLUMN: Thanks for coming Eddie!

COLUMN: Thanks for coming Eddie!

Here is a look at the merits - and demerits - of Eddie Jones abandoning Table Mountain for Twickenham.

Eddie Jones

When a rugby team makes an immediate turnaround within a week following a defeat, we tend to throw the cliché around loosely that "seven days is a short time in rugby."

Never did I ever think that I may have to one day look up whether it is in fact "the shortest ever tenure by a sports coach".

Yes, it appears as if outgoing Stormers coach Eddie Jones will hold the dubious honour of the shortest coaching reign in the history of sport.

Browsing through the history books, though, the current holder of the record for shortest spell as a manger belongs to Leroy Rosenior, who was officially in charge of the English soccer club Torquay United for 10 minutes in 2007.

Rosenior was appointed Torquay manager as the club was being taken over by a local consortium and with the new owners wanting their own man in charge, Rosenior was gone in just 600 seconds.

Eddie Jones decided in just a week to swap Table Mountain for Twickenham after being officially unveiled as Stormers head coach on November 12.

His parting shot was: "When I was appointed at WP Rugby there was no vacancy within the RFU and I never envisaged this opportunity to come forward. So while I am excited about the opportunity to coach England - in arguably the biggest international coaching job in world rugby - I'm very disappointed to be leaving the Stormers."

So WP Rugby was forced to accept the inevitable - a no-brainer really when one considered that their coffers would apparently be swelled to the tune of R15 million (£710 000) by way of RFU compensation.

WP Rugby President Thelo Wakefield has, however, dismissed this figure, claiming the transfer fee negotiated between WP Rugby and the RFU is "nowhere near the R15 million reported by some newspapers."  

The circumstances surrounding Jones' swift departure to clinch the deal and finalise negotiations in London, and the initial defiance and denials by WP Rugby chief Gert Smal, would certainly leave a sour taste in the mouth if I were a Stormers/WP fan.

"I'm committed to the Stormers. I woke up this morning and looked at Table Mountain. I'm very happy to be here," Jones was quoted as saying in a daily newspaper after the fire first started smouldering.

While WP Rugby's response to the inevitable was predictably diplomatic, there must be an element of well-concealed anger and frustration.

We do not know whether there was correspondence between Jones and his employers as he nipped off to London, or did the shrewd Aussie tactician sell them a perfect dummy pass?

The words 'backstabber', 'mercenary' and 'sell-out' have been freely bandied about on social media by disgruntled Province fans. The same fans who likened Jones' arrival at Newlands to the next coming of the Messiah.

But should they really feel bitterness towards Jones who has, after all, landed the biggest job in world rugby and a very handsome pay cheque for at least the next four years?

Sports coaching in any capacity, like a playing career, is performance based and is a high risk, low security profession. At 55, Jones must have been looking at the short term, with a nice retirement nest egg a strong consideration, when he made his snap decision to leave the Mother City.

Wakefield probably best summed it up when he said: "Nobody in South Africa can compete with the Pound and was no way we were ever going to be able to match that offer."

There are, nevertheless, an increasing number of SA rugby fans now who would like to see the Boks maintain a stranglehold over the old Colonial power, particularly with Jones at the helm.

BUT...If anyone is familiar with the inner workings of the Springbok set-up, it is Jones who was part of Jake White's World Cup-winning outfit in 2007.

That much he proved when he engineered one of the biggest upsets in rugby history by coaching Japan to victory over overwhelming favourites South Africa at the recent Rugby World Cup in England.

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