Springboks' World Cup draw renders Felix Jones' appointment even more inspired

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Felix Jones (Getty Images)
Felix Jones (Getty Images)
  • Felix Jones' portfolio as the Springboks' "European-based coaching consultant" now looks even more fitting following Monday's 2023 Rugby World Cup draw.
  • With Ireland and Scotland two of South Africa's opponents in Pool B, the Irishman's knowledge of those two countries' play is invaluable.
  • Ireland head coach Andy Farrell would understand better than most why the Boks have made this arrangement.

A lot can change in three years, but Rassie Erasmus' decision to keep Felix Jones on SA Rugby's books could prove an even bigger masterstroke than it already was following Monday's 2023 Rugby World Cup draw.

The Springboks have been drawn along with Ireland and Scotland in Pool B for the showpiece tournament in France, rendering Jones' role significant.

After coming aboard as a defence consultant ahead of last year's momentous World Cup triumph, the 33-year-old Irishman was appointed as a "European-based coaching consultant" at the start of the year with the specific brief of essentially acting as a national coach for Springboks or players of national interest playing for clubs on the continent.

"Felix's input will be massive given his knowledge of Irish (and European) rugby," Jacques Nienaber, the Springboks' head coach, told a virtual media briefing.

"We took the view a few years back that with such a big chunk of our national players playing abroad, we needed to take a strategic decision of appointing Felix. 

"It's important to have a national coaching representative liaising with the players in their respective regions."

Another important figure is Englishman Andy Edwards, the former Saracens conditioning coach who's replaced Aled Walters as the Springboks' head of athletic performance.

If there's one man who understands Erasmus and co's thinking with regards to Jones, then it's Nienaber's Irish counterpart, Andy Farrell.

During his time as Munster's defence guru, Nienaber would be in regular contact with Farrell, who was Ireland's defence coach before his elevation into the main role late last year. 

Interestingly, Farrell - bound by a clause in his contract that he couldn't work for any international team before April 2016 despite being fired months before by England coach Eddie Jones - filled the three-month void as a consultant for Munster.

"I have coached there for two years, I worked closely with Andy when I was doing the defence of Munster and he was doing the defence with Ireland so we had a good working relationship in terms of making the Ireland squad better," said Nienaber.

It's indeed all about making a national squad better.

"I suppose if Jacques is saying they'll have to play some good rugby to get out of the group then I'm sure me and (Scotland coach) Gregor (Townsend) are thinking the same as well.

"I suppose there's nothing better than a Rugby World Cup draw to get the juices flowing," said Farrell.

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