Lessons from a master Rugby Coach

Eddie jones

Lessons from a master Rugby Coach

“There are people who lead and lead inspirationally, and those who don’t”
Eddie Jones – English Rugby Coach

At the time of writing, the English Rugby team had won 18 Test Rugby Matches without a loss, having won the 2016 Six Nations Championship and a 3 nil win against the Wallabies on last year’s tour of Australia. Previously England had only won 3 Tests in 100 years. (Post Script: England lost to Ireland last weekend 13-9 denying them a world record).

What has brought about this amazing run of wins?

The English team is coached by a former coach of the Wallabies, Eddie Jones. In 2015 as the coach of the Japanese side he orchestrated one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport with Japan defeating the mighty South African Springboks in the Rugby World Cup.  The Japanese culture is very different to that of England. Jones has been able to adjust his style of coaching to match the culture. In Japan as head coach everyone does as you say.  With the old ‘command and control’ style of management there was no room for initiative and self-reliance.

It however was different when Jones took up the position of English Rugby coach. Described by former Wallaby coach, Bob Dwyer:

“He calls a spade a shovel, Eddie. I consider myself a very direct Australian, but Eddie is more so than I am. He takes no prisoners at all.”

Whilst being a strict disciplinarian and setting clear expectations of performance, he adopted a different approach to the one he used when coaching Japan. He created an environment where players were allowed to make decisions.

“You can’t develop leadership qualities if you don’t allow players to make decisions. You can’t develop leadership qualities if you don’t allow people to make mistakes. It is a very difficult balance, but you have to allow it,” says Jones

“You need players who have leadership qualities to make decisions for themselves”

Jones is a former teacher and head master. Perhaps his experience here helped in his coaching.

Jones has demonstrated some of the real characteristics of a leader – developing people, generating enthusiasm, inspiring trust, motivating, challenging the status quo and modifying your leadership approach to match the circumstances.

Can you think of circumstances where you have developed as a leader or developed others while allowing or being allowed to make decisions thereby becoming better leaders?

4 thoughts on “Lessons from a master Rugby Coach

    • Thank you Mike. As an AFL officiardo this is indeed a compliment. I guess the lessons in this post are:
      1. you must modify your leadership style to match culture
      2. allowing people to make decisions, which sometimes means making mistakes makes for better outcomes

  1. I was never a big fan of Eddie Jones when he was Wallabies coach David – his record against the All Blacks was better than it should have been (!!). Funny one of the best All Blacks coaches in recent times, Graham Henry was also a former head master!
    Agree though Jones is great at bringing out the best in his teams given the talent they have and a great point about the adaptability required between cultures in Japan and England. Great lessons for us all in this – excellent job!

    • Thanks Tim.
      Whilst I’m not surprised at your inherent pro-All Black bias, bringing out the best in teams is how you build great teams. You need to be adaptable and allow talent to develop.

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