Jones orders England pack to ‘rip into’ Welsh as joint training session between two nations makes history
Eddie Jones, the England head coach, will instruct his forwards to “rip into” their Welsh counterparts during an unprecedented scrummaging session between the two packs to intensify their preparations for their respective autumn Test series campaigns. Both sides are expected to bring up to 16 forwards to the training session on Nov 6 at Clifton College in Bristol.
Players will wear their official kits and the two packs will engage in 12 scrums and 15 line-outs, the average number of set-piece contests that occur in a Test match, with Welsh referee Nigel Owens officiating.
The training session, which will take place five days before England face Argentina at Twickenham, will pose a risk in terms of injury, but Jones – who will be concerned by injuries picked up by Elliot Daly, Matt Mullan and Piers Francis during yesterday’s game between Northampton and Wasps – claimed it was worth the risk. The Welsh open their autumn campaign on Nov 11, against Australia in Cardiff.
“It will be brilliant, exactly what we need,” said Jones. “New Zealand have got the best scrum in the world and we haven’t. So, how do we improve? We’ve got to scrum against sides that are better than us.
“Steve Borthwick, Neal Hatley [England’s forward coaches] and I were thinking, ‘Right, how can we take this scrum on to the next level?’ Scrum against a better team. Who’s got a good scrum, who’s close to us? We thought about Georgia, but it’s a bit far to go to Tbilisi for a day. So then Steve gave Warren a ring [to see] whether he was up for the idea.
“It will be physical stuff. Get stuck in! Who’s got the biggest chest! There’s always a risk of injuries, but we need to improve our scrummaging. If I see you every day, there’s a familiarity. We need to expose them to different areas.
Asked if the scrums and line-outs would be full-on contests, Jones said: “Yeah, rip in! We want Wayne Barnes but they wanted Nigel Owens, so we’ve bowed to their wishes. It’s a great place and Nigel will do it. He’s one of the best referees in the world so we’re lucky.”
Jones faces a wait to discover whether Daly, Mullan or Francis are able to take part in the autumn series. Daly suffered a knee injury, his Wasps team-mate Mullan an arm problem, and Northampton playmaker Francis damaged his ankle.
Concern: Elliot Daly is treated for a knee injury in Wasps’ victory over Northampton