Felix Jones has the rugby world at his feet after his role in South Africa’s World Cup triumph last year but he is treading cautiously as he contemplates what will be an eagerly-awaited next step.
The former Munster coach was parachuted into the ranks of the South African coaching team at the last minute for the tournament in Japan and earned a winner’s medal for his role with the Springboks who went on to defeat England in the final.
It was a remarkable turn of events given he left his coaching post with Munster only months before assuming a brief as a coaching ‘consultant’ with Rassie Erasmus & Co. which has made him a hot commodity on the game’s staffing merry-go-round.
Jones, who played for Leinster, Munster and Ireland before a neck injury forced him into premature retirement, has already been linked with a possible job at the struggling Ospreys who are currently being guided for the rest of the season by Mike Ruddock.
A report in Wales has tagged Jones as a potential defence coach at the region from next season on and as part of a ticket that would be headed by former Boks backs coach Swys De Bruin â whose illness at the time opened the door for Jones’ invite into the South African inner sanctum.
âI have a number of options which I have to give due consideration to but I canât really go into here,â said Jones, speaking in Dublin today. âI have to make best decision for me and my family. What is next is I will be collecting my kids at 1.30pm.â
It’s a good place to be, spending time with his family and using the gap in between jobs to sit back and digest the rugby world on a broader scale than was possible with Munster or the Springboks when the next opponent was about as far as the eye could see.
As for reflection, there doesn’t seem to have been much. The South Africa chapter happened so quickly that he had little time to take it all in at the time. No sooner had he checked in than the team was playing its final warm-up game, against Japan in Japan.
And if it hasn’t sunk in yet then who could be surprised?
Jones had already begun to delve into other sporting environments for his own research purposes when Erasmus got in touch last year. He found his feet in the Boks setup from day one, helped in no small part by his familiarity with his co-workers.
It was Erasmus who started his journey down the coaching path at Munster and defence coach Jacques Nienaber provided another link between the two operations. Both men â and plenty of the players â sang the Irishman’s praises during the tournament in Japan.
âIt was fluent enough in that they knew how I operated and I knew how they operated … I was in contact with Rassie and Jacques quite a bit because they are good rugby people and friends and their rugby stuff is sharp for you to bounce stuff off.
“I would have been constantly chatting to those guys so that was how that came about. And they knew how I operated and they knew that I knew their programme so it was all quite fluid.â
Former international rugby player and South African World Cup winning coach Felix Jones was speaking at the launch of the AIB Future Sparks Festival 2020, an innovative careers festival for senior cycle students, which is taking place on March 26th in the RDS.