The Dark Side of Eddie Jones

1 November 2018  |  Rich M

Talented people sometimes fail. The fields of politics, business, the military and sport, are soaked in stories of great individuals who have met an undignified end. Eddie Jones’s infamous and demanding working habits have brought success; but they might bring a fall. We explore the Dark Side of Eddie Jones.

In the field of psychology, Bob Hogan termed the phrase The Bright & Dark Side of personality. The bright side is strengths. The dark side is those same strengths, overplayed (and hence, a weakness).

A straightforward example is someone who is passionate on a good day, but is emotionally volatile on a bad one. A quality that is attractive initially, but after a while becomes tiresome and annoying. The concept of strengths also being weaknesses is not new. Pick a field of human competition and examples of dark side disasters emerge (see table at bottom). Is Eddie Jones’s strength turning into his weakness?

Eddie Jones experienced unprecedented success initially. However, since the record-breaking run,  the ship has started to take on water. His turnover of staff is a close second to President Trump. For any high-performing team to gel, there needs to be cohesion. Cohesion is hard to achieve when staff are given temporary contracts and are regularly replaced.

Eddie’s bright side

  • Take no prisoners – His insomnia emails, exacting standards and drive for perfection set the tone for the England camp in 2016. He was intolerant of violations of squad rules and never showed any satisfaction with performance.
  • On their toes – Players and coaching staff alike were never allowed to feel comfortable. Players – such as Haskell – fell in and out of Camp. Coaches 
    such as Ella – were all on temporary contracts. Avoiding complacency is a distinctive characteristic of the England coach.
  • Media friends – He loves a good media scrum. The media loves him too. He was masterful at distraction: always giving the media something juicy to gorge on that was very little to do with his players – and in doing so, relieved pressure on them.

Eddie’s dark side

  • Overworked, under appreciated – This style can grate on support staff and coaches – quickly. In the same vein as Entrepreneurs, Jones seems to be rarely satisfied with others’ efforts and seldom praises. This affects morale, especially when results don’t go your way.
  • Loyal follower-ship – Being mercurial can breed insecurity amongst the ranks. Being kept on your toes is a good thing, but too much of it is exhausting and surely affects loyalty – possibly an explanation for Gustard’s exit.
  • Media foes – Cheerleaders when the weather was good quickly start scrutinising when the seas turn rough. Chris Jones can attest to catching the sharp end of Eddie’s tongue when things didn’t go well. It certainly feels like the media are circling him now.


In Tim Irwin’s excellent book on career disasters he says that powerful leaders, over time, become truth-starved. Particularly if the leader is authoritarian. People around them stop challenging them and speaking truth to power. They know it’s futile.

Jones has been successful by being contrarian and driving standards. It follows that the more success you gain from using a particular strategy, the more you use it. Who among us is immune to reusing successful strategies? Eddie Jones is a man of innumerable talents and bright sides. And, every Englishman (including me) is praying for good news. We are about to find out if the dark side is going to claim another victim.

A question of hubris (table):