The players from South Africa are hardly more complimentary, if you ask them. Willie le Roux, a full-back for the Springboks, describes his coach as “unbelievable.” “Collaborating with him is an honor.” Kwagga Smith, another member of his team, feels the same way. He is a wonderful person and coach. Because of him, the Springboks as a whole are better athletes.
It’s interesting to note that the person they are referring to is 36-year-old Felix Jones, who will be moving to England to become a manager after this World Cup instead of Rassie Erasmus or Jacques Nienaber. While Jones, who is unrelated to Eddie, may not be well-known in his native Ireland, if South Africa defeats New Zealand at the Stade de France on Saturday, it will add two World Cup championships to his coaching resume.
With Kevin Sinfield about to leave England after the World Cup, it makes sense that Steve Borthwick was eager to bring him into his team of trusted advisers. The exact role Jones will play for England is unknown, but there is no doubting his work ethic. According to Le Roux, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without his laptop.” He supports us on the backs, in our attack, and in our strike actions. He will definitely be missed by the Springboks, in my opinion.
Jones played in a back three with Munster and Ireland as late as 2015, at which time he earned all 13 caps. He was forced to quit at the age of 28 due to a neck injury, but since then, he has quickly established himself as a forward-thinking coach with an excellent attention to detail. Smith remarks, “He just pays so much attention to the little things.” “You always believe you have an easy pass until he posts a video and says, ‘Hey, look at how you do it.'”
Watchful and intelligent, Jones hails from Dublin originally but it was in Munster where he had his eyes opened to different ways of looking at rugby. He cites the New Zealander Rodd Penney as an important influence – “He changed the way I thought about the game” – but it was the relationship he struck up with Erasmus and Nienaber during their spell with Munster between 2016 and 2017 that really turbo-charged his coaching career.