How Eddie Jones helped mastermind South Africa’s victory over England in 2007 Rugby World Cup final

Forum » Rugby » How Eddie Jones helped mastermind South Africa’s victory over England in 2007 Rugby World Cup final

Feb 18, 2023, 08:04

Eddie Jones had been planning for the 2007 Rugby World Cup as soon as the previous one was over. From the moment his Australia side were agonisingly beaten by Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal in Sydney in 2003, he began plotting a strategy for the next tournament in France. Alas, with a few weeks to go, it’s fair to say things weren’t going to plan.

Jones’s career had hit rock bottom. Having been sacked as Wallabies coach in 2005 after a run of eight defeats in nine games, he had just endured a disastrous season with Queensland Reds, finishing bottom of the Super 14. His final game in charge, against the Bulls, had ended in a humiliating 92-3 defeat. Not only was he out of a job, but his love of the game had run dry. That was the point at which he got a phone call from an old sparring partner called Jake White.

White was the coach of South Africa, and though he had his differences with Jones in the past, he also remembered one meeting in particular. It was a couple of years earlier, ahead of South Africa’s game against Australia at Brisbane. Jones wasn’t going to spill any secrets on his former Wallabies charges, but over coffee he did offer one piece of advice. He warned White that the pitch at the Suncorp Stadium was particularly quick, and would suit Australia’s running game.

An incredulous White argued that a pitch was a pitch. As it turned out, Australia ran rings around the Springboks in a lightning 49-0 thumping. White realised at that moment that Jones was the sort of coach who could bring a unique perspective. Now, with just a few weeks to go until the World Cup, he made his move. He called Jones and invited him to spend a week watching some Springbok training sessions, and offering his thoughts.

Captain John Smit remembered that first training session, at Bishops School in Cape Town, extremely well. Jones was watching from the sidelines, and afterwards Smit asked him what he thought. To Smit’s shock, Jones rated the session “maybe four out of 10”. “Quite honestly,” Smit later said, I thought we had shot the lights out. He was quite honest about his assessment, but he said it in a nice way, and gave you ways to fix it.”

White didn’t take much convincing. “In that week, I saw how much value Eddie added,” White says in Mike Colman’s book ‘Eddie Jones: Rugby Maverick’. “He took existing ideas and put a fresh spin on them.” Jones was due to join Saracens in the autumn of 2007, but White asked if he would consider staying on for the World Cup as a consultant. Jones’s reply was tart and to the point: “Can you turn silver into gold, mate?” He wanted to know, above all, if the talented Springboks genuinely believed they were potential world champions.

Jones’s appointment did not meet with universal favour. There was a firestorm of criticism in Jones’s native Australia, where his dalliance with the enemy was seen as borderline treasonous. John O’Neill, chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, was particularly scathing, accusing Jones of selling out to “the highest bidder”. Naturally, Jones retorted in kind, pointing out that as chief executive of Australian soccer, O’Neill had broken the bank to hire the Dutchman Guus Hiddink.

The South African Rugby Union, meanwhile, was uneasy about the idea of a foreign coach working with the team. Eventually, they sanctioned the move and allowed Jones to travel, on one condition: that he would not be an official member of the touring party, and thus would not be issued with a team blazer.

And so Jones set to work. His presence proved an instant hit with the players, who were impressed not only with his knowledge but with the way he effortlessly eased the pressure on White, their relatively inexperienced head coach. “We got the fun-loving Eddie,” says winger Bryan Habana. “He didn’t have to speak in a press conference, or to administrators. He didn’t come in and take charge. He just gave us little nuggets of wisdom, an insight into how outsiders saw us. He has an incredible rugby brain. His nuances are some of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Jones first got to work on the Springbok backs, showing them videos of his Brumbies and Wallabies teams, explaining where and how to find space. Post-match beers, during which Jones would kick back, debrief the game and share some of his wisdom, became a highlight of the week. As South Africa sailed through the group phase, smashing defending champions England along the way, it didn’t escape anybody’s notice that his former side, Australia, had been knocked out in the last eight.

Asked by reporters to explain the factors behind the Wallabies’ shock defeat, White replied: “He’s standing in our dressing room downstairs.”

As the week of the final approached, an anxious White sought out Jones for guidance. Jones, using his experience of four years earlier, told White that the players needed to hear his voice. “They draw confidence from what you say,” he said. He reminded White that all the preparations had already been done, that everyone knew their roles and that remarkably there were no injuries. His advice? “Stop worrying.”

Well, we all know what happened next. In what Smit would later describe as “the worst game of rugby he’s ever played”, South Africa beat England 15-6 to claim the World Cup for the second time. After the victorious players had collected their medals, White stepped aside to usher Jones forward to receive his medal first. It was a recognition of the small but immeasurable contribution Jones had made to their winning campaign.

There is a counter-view out there, of course. There are those who argue that Jones’s role in that tournament has been grossly overplayed with hindsight. That the bulk of the hard yards had been done in the years leading up to the World Cup. That it was the players who ultimately deserve the credit, abetted by a favourable draw that pitted them against Fiji, Argentina and a limited England in the final.

It is a view espoused, curiously enough, by Jones himself. “The team was together four years,” he would later argue. “I was with them for 13 weeks. The systems were in place. All I did was paint over the cracks.” The players, however, demur. Bakkies Botha believes he played “a bigger part than a lot of people think”. And it is some indication of how highly Jones was valued within the Springbok camp that, as he took his leave and flew to Japan the day after the final, the players hatched a touching plan.

SARU were still adamant that Jones was not eligible for an official team blazer. A few weeks afterwards, however, Jones walked into the office at Saracens to be greeted by an enormous parcel. On opening it, he discovered Habana’s World Cup blazer, which he had framed and sent to Jones in recognition of the debt they all owed him. “Because I really valued the input Eddie had, I gave him my blazer,” Habana says now. “I hope it’s hanging somewhere in his house. He’s a good man.”

This Saturday, Jones will take his seats in the stands in Yokohama for a World Cup final against South Africa. The England side he has taken there bears an unmistakeable South African influence, a product largely of the Saracens connection established by Jones himself, as well the likes of Brendan Venter, Smit and Schalk Brits: a rugged physicality, an intricate and ruthlessly-drilled set piece game, an emphasis on defence and territory and reliable ball. The 2007 Springboks may owe Jones. But Jones owes a great deal to them too.

Of course, all of this might easily have never come to pass. Had South Africa’s new technical advisor not abruptly left to take a job with the Stormers in Western Province on the eve of the 2007 World Cup, there might not have been a vacancy for White to fill at all. The technical advisor? Rassie Erasmus, who will face Jones in Saturday’s final as South Africa’s coach.

It’s funny how fate works out sometimes.

Feb 18, 2023, 09:06


Thanks for the above posting. 

This is interesting - remember how l'Grande Merde and Mozart tried to downplay the role played by Jones in the 2007 WC.   According to the former Os said that Jones played no role in the team in the 2007 WC.   Habana apparently thought otherwise.   

Please also remember that Smit said the final was the worst match he ever played in - the final was indeed a mess.   The Springboks was sub-standard compared to the English insofar as forward play was concerned and never came near to scoring a try.   They were saved by the English being undisciplined and that cost the English the World Cup.   Fact is the worst performing team on the day won the WC in the 2007 final.

Now back to a comment I made recently.   Some of the 2007 finalists left Springbok rugby - but the bulk of the players went to the 2011 WC and was totally disastrous.  Some leftovers even survived to the 2015 WC and  key players who caused the disaster against Japan were from the 2007 WC squad.   

Of the three WC's won by the Springbok squad in 2019 was on a different planet and vastly superior when it came to rugby performances in the WC  - the second best squad was the 1995 WC squad - the 2007 WC squad came a poor third when it came to the quality of rugby played.     


Feb 18, 2023, 11:28

If you are going to quote me, actually convey what I said. I stated exactly what Os said, that Jones gave the Boks a bit of confidence in their systems and plays because he designed some of them with the Brumbies. 

The revisionism in the tripe I've read above is par for the course from that sector of the pseudo fans, and not worthy of the time of any serious rugby fan. 

Feb 18, 2023, 11:44

Thanks for the copy-paste, full-o-Dentsies. 

Feb 18, 2023, 15:00

Hey full-o-Shit

Still waiting on the 1…..2…

What happened did intel crash hahahaha

Feb 18, 2023, 15:00

Quoting from what Os said was a key to your desperate BS.   You were too stupid to realize what really happened in the WC in 2007.   Prior to the WC in 2006 and 2007 the Springboks were desperately poor in 2006 and in the matches in the 2007 Tri-Nations series.  FACT.   There was a strong move to fire White as coach at the end of 2006 - but he was only saved by the imminent WC and  he was not all that good in 2007.   

Dave maintained and I support that in what he said - he said the Springboks was saved by the presence of Jones in the coaching staff.    White was always desperately poor as a backline coach and that was ever the case in teams he coached.   I went to France to watch the games and the worst performance was against Tonga - where this minor team was leading in the score by minute 70 and the Springboks was saved from an imminent defeat by a miracle performance when the Tonga team was totally exhausted.     The Springboks had a substandard performance in the Fiji quarterfinal as well.    Those are facts nobody could argue against and the final was in Smit's own words the final was the worst match he played in on test level.   The fact was that  White prescribed in detail what should be done in the match and most of what happened was substandard.   

It ended up in struggling to win a final in a totally substandard England team.    I still maintain what the WC 2007 Springbok squad was not up to the standard of the 1995 squad and way below the 2019 squad.          


Feb 18, 2023, 15:18

Absolute garbage. You don't have the technical acumen to begin to argue such a position. I have each and every test under White at hand, if any one of you wants to refute anything I have ever said about any game, then we can dissect any test frame-by-frame right here, right now. It's easy being a kak praat on a forum, I have for a while now issued an open debate based on film, any time. The floor is yours...

Feb 18, 2023, 15:18

 small but immeasurable’…..hahahaha….that’s about the level of this piece. But it is classical Comrade. For  years he went on about meeting Jake White and then he posts what is so obviously a hit piece on White. Comrade September in mid season form.

Feb 18, 2023, 15:19

Quisling is a curious specimen. 

Feb 18, 2023, 16:09

l'Grande Merde

Your level of rugby knowledge is non-existent and what you write bout rugby performances is garbage only rugby idiots can manage to come up with - generalized BS.        

Feb 18, 2023, 17:02

So bad, yet you and your little ork companions can refute nothing. Interesting, those who tell others they know nothing consistently exhibit the least rugby acumen possible. 

Feb 18, 2023, 17:03

Then there is ‘large but invisible’….Clever’s posts are long and tedious but any meaningful  content is hard to find.

Feb 18, 2023, 23:13


You mean something that supports the BS you are trying to spread on site     Total of anything bar prejudice is ever produced by you. 

Feb 18, 2023, 23:13


You mean something that supports the BS you are trying to spread on site     Total of anything bar prejudice is ever produced by you. 

Feb 18, 2023, 23:45

Once again you post twice. In the learning stakes there are Pavlov’s dogs, next there is Clever. Were you one of Pavlov’s dogs you wouldn’t start salivating until you actually had the food in your mouth. 

Feb 19, 2023, 00:32

Jake was in shit street and Jones saved his bacon

Feb 19, 2023, 00:47

Jake was a significant factor in Eddie being fired by the ARU. Jake gave Eddie a path to redemption. Jake didn't need Jones and that Bok side has no trace of a Jones coached or lead team. By his team admission he didn't do a lot. The carp always ready to take d grade journalism and make it canon. 

Feb 19, 2023, 03:16

L'Grande Merde - and the moon is made of green cheese.    White's knowledge of rugby coaching was limited to forward based play - the backline was there only to defend.    The Springboks played rugby that was soon analyzed and after a year the easy alternatives were found neutralizing the team in 2005 and 2006.   In the series the Springboks played only teams ranked 7 in the World or lower and even in those cases there were execution problems.  That obviously was the reason for what Smit said about the final  - the 2007 WC final was the the worst match he ever played in.  

White's ideas about backline usage were always substandard and that never changed.   That is where as Dave said - Jones saved the bacon of White.        


Feb 19, 2023, 06:12

So the 2007 WC final was the worst match Smit played in…..and that after Jones had supposedly sprinkled fairy dust on the Boks.  Poor old Mike, those feet have to look like Swiss cheese.

Feb 19, 2023, 10:26

I like these quotes from Michael. Meyer was angry with Morné and dropped him because he said he was not good enough for test rugby. His total fabrication about Henry and Morné. Michael just makes everything up at he goes along. 

Feb 19, 2023, 10:41

The facts are that Jake was on the verge of being sacked - it’s well documented. His only salvation was bringing Jones in and Eddie’s huge influence is evidenced in the article above

Jakes record leading up to the WC was so piss poor he should have been sacked

Eddie saved him and that’s a fact

Feb 19, 2023, 10:58


Do you understand logical thinking at all.   First of all you have as per normal being guillty of BS spreading.   The fact is and Smit knew it was that Jake wrote out a full description of how the match should be played.     That did not allow for anything else than ten men rugby - in other words - whatever Jones helped with was totally discarded and the game plan for the day was totally the normal White game.   

Smit made another telling remark on the game plan as well.   He said that if the English try was allowed they would have to try to score one themselves - there was obviously no plan for playing .  comprehensive rugby that would lead to scoring of tries.    The result was that the quality of rugby played on the day by the Springboks was substandard and the only thing in their favor was the ill-discipline of the English Players.             

Feb 19, 2023, 11:30

That final was one of the most astutely played finals. England, who were vastly superior then to the rabble we played in the 2019 final, had the physicality to gain parity with us. They fought the breakdown hard, turning the game into an arm wrestle. We were close to scoring tries ourselves, and they were still lucky not to receive two yellow cards, especially for the Butch James break where he was tripped. But, the superior quality of the 2007 team and campaign is beside the point. The topic is that of Eddie Jones. These games are still available online, so the task is simple: Go find references for the aspects of the Bok game that clearly indicated Jones' influence. Jones has a distinct way of setting up defensive systems, especially in how he structures his teams on attack. This is something that no journalist has ever been able to produce, and no pseudo-fan. As per those words from Smit, I have never heard him say any such thing. It would be highly uncharacteristic of him to speak like that in general, much less about the WC winning final. Sober up Michael. 

Feb 19, 2023, 11:45

England vastly superior bwhaaaahaaaa

Fuck me what a joke

Boks on paper were better in virtually every position

Feb 19, 2023, 11:50

That England team was far more physical and capable in more facets of play than the 2019 England side. It's not even remotely close. England haven't possessed a power pack since around 2010. A team that can apply power up front is the team most likely to trouble the Boks. Of course, we aren't talking hypotheticals here, as the results speak for themselves. The 2007 Bok team being pretty much man-for-man better than the 2019 team. 

Feb 19, 2023, 12:06

This type of BS spreading is typical of l'Grande Merde.   First of all the detailed game plan was not astute and the implementation was substandard.   The fact remains ill-discipline caused the English loss.   Only a fossil would say it is astute when it comes to 10 men rugby being played.  

The only dangerous attacking move came from the English - not the Springboks.   Any structured game plan would also look at opportunities to attack the English team and gain points through such initiatives - there was none of those otherwise Smit should have known about it.

By the way dimness I never said Meyer got mad at Morne - it was not necessary to say that - Morne was dropped because of failures in performances.   Even Meyer realized that Morne is a good braai companion - but totally unable to perform on test level.   ,            


Feb 19, 2023, 12:12

there was none of those otherwise Smit should have known about it.

There you go again, making it all up. How do you know what Smit thought, or what he did or didn't know? 

Even Meyer realized that Morne is a good braai companion - but totally unable to perform on test level.   , 

Michael, have you forgotten to take your meds again? 

Micheal, stick to Beeno's Trumpet, you can hold your own there. On rugby matters, you are horribly outgunned and do yourself no favours at all. 

Feb 19, 2023, 17:51

Jake was going to be fired…..sure….because the Bools brewed up a coup. Not because anybody in their right mind would have fired a coach who took us from Qf losers in 2003 to TN winner in 2004 and 5 minutes from TN winner in 2005.

Dave this is all still Luke Watson hangover..  the Watsonistas still believe Jake deprived  the Boks of a great flank. I kid you not.

Feb 19, 2023, 18:43

Nothing to do with Luke he was of little consequence in the end

Jakes results were piss poor as he started losing the plot with ridiculous selections

Jake has always been a 2 season coach then the players see past his crap personality and his inability to come up with a plan B.

Look at him with the Bulls right now - big budget but crap buys and piss poor selections

Feb 19, 2023, 19:14

In his last year Eddie was 6/3 and Jake was 14/3….so who had best longevity. The real crime was SARU sacking Jake and depriving us of a real run as champions.

Feb 19, 2023, 20:06


Do not blame De Villiers only.    The 2007 team was inevitable in decline and the disastrous situation that a few of the players took over the functions of the coach just caused further rot.   In any event none of the players really covered themselves in glory since 2007 and reputation became the norm for selection.     There is nothing White could have done with that.       

Feb 19, 2023, 22:16

The 2007 team was set to enter its prime. That was a missed golden age, and 2009 was only a glimpse of what it could achieve. We won't see a pool of players that talented for a long time. You are a lunatic Michael. 

Feb 20, 2023, 00:59

I saw what really happened in the 2007 WC and also knew how the Bulls and Cheetah franchises connived with the Watson supporting Unions to get rid of  White.    The two Unions wants the hopeless disaster Meyer as Springbok coach and the Sharks and Stormers sided with De Villiers - a bad coach compared with a disastrous one they would have had if Meyer became coach in 2008.

White was a limited and very average coach - that was proved during his controversy ridden  period he coached the Springboks.    He was the same in the case of club teams he coached.   By the way the worst criticism of White came from some of the great players you shout about.   So let me go further and say great players continue improving their careers after winning the WC to prove their real value as players.   Instead the 2007 lot became prima donnas living off reputations.   The same players became disasters in their own right - especially in the 2011 WC and those Meyer pleaded with to return to play Springbok rugby was atrocious in 2015.   Whatever reputations the relevant player build up in 2007 was destroyed during their subsequent reputations.     


Feb 20, 2023, 05:05

You saw what you wanted to see, whether it was there or not.

Feb 20, 2023, 07:24


Don't accuse me of what you are always up to.   I saw the reality in games - not allusions you dream up afterwards.    By the way a good coach look at the weaknesses in opposing teams and concentrate on exploiting those weaknesses to the benefit of the team.   White did not look at that at all and opposing coaches used that to the maximum against the Springboks coached by him,   That account for the poor results of the Springboks between 2016 and the start of the 2007 RWC campaign.    The sub-standard English team coach Ashton totally outwitted White in the 2007 final and the weak points in the Springboks came out clearly and were exploited by him.   

The key in the final pointwise was the 5 convertible penalties given away by the England team as against the 2 convertible penalties given away by the Springboks.   For the rest on average the substandard English team out-performed the Springboks during the match in most aspects of the game.   Ill-disciple caused the English team to lose in the final.  


Feb 22, 2023, 03:01


Says it all right here......

Captain John Smit remembered that first training session, at Bishops School in Cape Town, extremely well. Jones was watching from the sidelines, and afterwards Smit asked him what he thought. To Smit’s shock, Jones rated the session “maybe four out of 10”. “Quite honestly,” Smit later said, I thought we had shot the lights out. He was quite honest about his assessment, but he said it in a nice way, and gave you ways to fix it.”

and here...

"The players, however, demur. Bakkies Botha believes he played “a bigger part than a lot of people think”.

No point in arguing with a pair of fools when a bit of honesty is required.

Feb 22, 2023, 05:04

Actually no it doesn’t say it all Comrade, you left out the second sentence:

"I think, definitely, he played a bigger part than a lot of people think for the Springboks in 2007. He brought a lot of calmness into the coaching team, working together with Jake White in France.”


Jake was confident enough to have a big personality in the coaching team. And Eddie’s contributions were apparent in the pool games.

However in the Fiji match those tactics almost took us out of the WC….but just in time we went back to basics and prevailed. After that match it was Jake ball, not Eddie ball in the semi and the final.

The players obviously liked and enjoyed Eddie, it was a new experience. But let’s not get confused about who ensured the WC.

Feb 22, 2023, 07:05

Not worthy of debate, Eddie was an obvious asset, contributing to our success.

Feb 22, 2023, 09:32

It's all very simple. We have the footage at hand. But, we yet again have the pseudo fans who rely on hearsay to back up a point. My question was simple: What aspects of our play came from Jones? The pseudo fans are now claiming he changed our model. That is obviously not true. The Boks didn't at any point resemble a Jones team. He may have worked with them on some aspects of their game, but at no point did the Boks play any differently. It was always Jake ball. In fact, the biggest factor of the WC was Frans Steyn at 12 and JP coming into his own. Up until Frans came on, the Boks didn't have a a clear edge over Samoa. Some key facts that are very commonly ignored. 

Feb 22, 2023, 12:40

Not worthy of debate, Eddie was an obvious asset, contributing to our success.

And that's all it is......the players have said as much eg Smit, Bakkies and Habana. 

Feb 22, 2023, 13:07

Hmmmm . . . who to believe? Legendary Springboks like John Smit, Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana . . . or Doos XL, the poster who knows the least about rugby on a meaningless message board?

It's a tough one . . .

Feb 22, 2023, 13:13

"It's a tough one . . ."

Laughing graphics

Feb 22, 2023, 18:04

So tell us exactly which aspects of the game Eddie master minded in the final..scrumming, place kicking, mauls, defense. And if you can’t answer the question perhaps you can answer this..when has Eddie matched Jakes record as an international coach

Fools sucking up the pablum

Feb 23, 2023, 05:27


You and l'Grande Merde are both talking shit.   Fact is the Steyn missed tackle nearly let to a English try.  He missed two other tackles as well.    Steyn never was a matchwinner in his whole career in tests - that is why he was never in any tests played between 2013 and 2018.   For that reason it was a mystery that Erasmus selected him as a back-up player for the 2014 RWC.   In major matches  in 2019 never played more than 12 minutes on average.   Fact is Steyn was a disaster in 2012 as well.    

Pieterse and Habana did well in the group matches in 2007 - in the final they never saw a ball.  Personally I thought Pietersen looked good and very promising in 2007 at age of 19 - but by 2014 he was piss-poor and not a really good Springbok wing anymore.   

So let me answer the simple question l'Grande Merde raised.    The Springbok backline was dysfunctional and not properly used in the final.   There obviously was no such problem in the Group matches - but in the final they played Jake Ball - which meant that the backline ended with the Flyhalf or in rare cases with Steyn at 12.    So Jones did play a role in matches through proper usage of the backline - but in the final White did not allow for that to happen.   By the way numbskulls mention one good backline attacking in the final - there was not a single attack by the backline that could be called even partly effective.               


Feb 23, 2023, 07:48

He led Japan to a RWC victory over the mighty Bokke, an ignominious day in our rugby history.

Feb 23, 2023, 16:31

So I ask you with tears in my eyes Clever, if the Springbok backline was dysfunctional, which I don’t believe, how does Eddie get credit for our victory.

You are so befuddled, you don’t even realize you are arguing for Jake and against Eddie.

Feb 23, 2023, 17:57

No Mozart - helped the Springboks by treating them as grown ups - not like children.  He was a proper coach while White behaved like a schoolteacher.    Fact is that  White's coaching problems include situations players gets dispirited  and in important matches the team collapsed.   That was noticeable wherever he was a coach - irrespective whether on  international or club/franchise level..       

You need to Log in to reply.
Back to top