Alan Jones gives Quade Cooper the reins of his Barbarians side

October 4, 2017

Alan Jones has chosen Quade Cooper as the captain of his Barbarians side as they prepare to take on the Wallabies at Allianz Stadium later this month.

Read about his coaching philosophy and decision to return to the game in a piece written in the SCG Trust’s Around the Grounds magazine.  

Keep it simple. That’s the message from Alan Jones, who will return to the coaches box, more than 30 years on from the Wallabies’ infamous 1984 Grand Slam triumph in Europe.

Jones will lead the Barbarians against his former team when they meet at Allianz Stadium on Saturday, October 28 for a battle that will be everything but a ‘hit and giggle.’

“I don’t think there will be any surprises to how I expect to play the game,” Jones says. “It’s pretty simple. The forwards will have a major job to win ball and the backs will have to use it.

“There are going to be difficulties but I just hope that in the brief time that we have available, we’ll be able to play rugby the way it’s meant to be played. It’s not basketball, so this notion about throwing the ball around is ridiculous, there’s got to be a discipline about the way you do it.

“The ball is the bank and I don’t know any business that gives the bank away as regularly as does international rugby. We won’t be roofing the ball back but I hope that they will roof it back at us, because we’ll run at them.”’

The Barbarians have a history of playing an entertaining brand of rugby, dating back to their first match against Wales in 1915. And Jones, has a history of winning games from the coaching chair.

He remains the only man to the lead the Wallabies to an undefeated run in Great Britain and Ireland, and to win the Bledisloe Cup against the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Despite being behind the microphone as Australia's leading broadcaster, Jones has never stopped thinking like a coach and will need to call on all of his contacts to pull together a competitive outfit.

“The first thing is, I need people to understand that the biggest difficulty we have will not be playing the Wallabies, the biggest difficulty will be putting a team together.

“The nature of the Barbarians is very difficult. I’ve already picked a team and half of those, for a variety of reasons are not available.

“The other aspect of what I’m seeking to do in this brief week, is to promote two young Australian coaches. I’m going to be working with my colleague from the Grand Slam, Alec Evans, but at the same time I’m going to introduce Brian Smith from the Scots College and John Mulvihill, from Japan.”

It will be just the second time the Barbarians have played at Moore Park. In 2009, Australia beat the travelling side 55-7 in a match featuring Sonny Bill Williams, Stirling Mortlock and Luke McAlister at Allianz Stadium.

In 2014, the two sides produced 11 tries with Cheika’s men beating the Barbarians by four points at Twickenham, a back and forth encounter that Jones will be keen on emulating on the last weekend of October this year.

Jones revolutionised the Wallabies’ attacking patterns in the ‘80s and while the game may have moved on, the desire to reclaim Australia’s rugby identity has never been stronger.

“The only KPI we should be interested in, is winning games,” according to Jones. “If you win, the turnstiles will turn. If we’ve got a Wallabies side that’s dominating the world, playing beautiful rugby, there isn’t a corporate outfit in Australia that won’t want to have their brand on our jersey. That's a fact."

For Jones and the Barbarians, this is an opportunity to show the rugby world how it’s done as he looks to breathe new life into the international game. It's about doing the basics right and doing them often.  

"The first rule of this encounter is that I'm not bringing players all the way to Sydney for a holiday. The Barbarians have a wonderful tradition, both in behaviour and in performance, and we must honour that tradition and hopefully,  improve it.

"We can leave a legacy for 2017, which the Barbarians down the track can be proud of. Those ground rules are being set very early in piece.”

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