Eng­land are not fit enough to win the World Cup, says Jones

Coach will put his play­ers un­der rev­o­lu­tion­ary regime For­wards sin­gled out be­fore ‘Bat­tle of Bris­tol’ with Welsh

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Gavin Mairs RUGBY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Eng­land’s play­ers are to be sub­jected to a rev­o­lu­tion­ary fit­ness regime af­ter Ed­die Jones warned his squad were cur­rently not fit enough to win the World Cup in Ja­pan in 2019.

Jones in­sists his for­wards must face an in­tense con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme to be able to cope with the chang­ing de­mands of the mod­ern game.

He in­tends to bring in a host of fit­ness spe­cial­ists in­clud­ing Dave Red­din, Eng­land’s strength and con­di­tion­ing coach when Sir Clive Woodward’s side won the World Cup in 2003, to help draw up the plan.

“They’re not fit enough to win the World Cup, and we want to win the World Cup,” said Jones of his squad, who have just re­turned from a warmweather train­ing camp in Por­tu­gal.

“You don’t have to be fit enough now to win the World Cup, you have to be fit enough to win the World Cup at 19:59 on Novem­ber 2, 2019. We’ve got some great plans in place to fix that.”

The move comes as Jones pre­pares to take his for­wards to an un­prece­dented scrum­mag­ing and line-out ses­sion against Wales at Clifton Col­lege, with Eng­land prop Harry Wil­liams warn­ing that the confrontation be­tween the two in­ter­na­tional packs could “all kick off ” and billing it as “the Bat­tle of Bris­tol”.

“There’s no rea­son to hype it up be­cause ev­ery­one will be full steam ahead,” said Wil­liams, who is likely to make his Twick­en­ham de­but for Eng­land against Ar­gentina next Saturday.

“Tom Fran­cis [his Ex­eter Chiefs team-mate and Wales ri­val] sent me an ar­ti­cle about it last weekend, say­ing ‘See you in Bris­tol’.

“You get used to train­ing against your team-mates and you very rarely go ab­so­lutely full-on. If you’re against a dif­fer­ent team or na­tion there’s a lot of added in­ten­sity. It could very eas­ily kick off. We should have armed po­lice­men as we’re walk­ing out – chains and stuff. Let’s re­ally build it up: the Bat­tle of Bris­tol!”

Court­ney Lawes, who is ex­pected to fea­ture as a sec­ond row for Eng­land on Saturday de­spite play­ing at blind­side flanker for Northamp­ton, warned it was im­por­tant for the play­ers not to get car­ried away by their pride to­mor­row.

“It’s a good idea and we have to make sure our egos don’t get in the way of the ses­sion,” Lawes said. “We are ri­vals, we will play them in the Six Na­tions next year – but not now.

“It will be full-on. It’s al­ways full-on. We al­ways have teams in that we play against in train­ing. So it’s a big­ger ver­sion of that. I know a few of the boys now from the Lions and I hope we all get some­thing from it.”

Eng­land’s front-five for­wards look set for the great­est scru­tiny in Jones’s in­ten­sive fit­ness cam­paign to en­sure they are in the right con­di­tion to carry out his game plan as he tries to close a “20 per cent” gap to world cham­pi­ons New Zealand. “In the tight five the game’s go­ing very much to­wards re­peat in­ten­sity – re­peat ac­cel­er­a­tions, re­peat col­li­sions – and it’s very much about how quickly you get back to your feet and get in­volved,” Jones added.

“In a game of rugby you’ve gen­er­ally got two play­ers on the ball, and then you’ve got the off-the-ball peo­ple. It’s work­ing in­di­vid­u­ally with the play­ers, get­ting the play­ers to un­der­stand the changes that they’ve got to make.

“We’re go­ing to have a pre­sen­ta­tion about where we see the changes in the game go­ing and what then are the im­pli­ca­tions for the play­ers, be­cause they’re play­ers that have been in the game for 10 years and they’ve done the same thing, and they’ve got to change the way they train now.”

Ed­die Jones is a man with a plan to turn Eng­land into World Cup win­ners – and it is go­ing to hurt.

Eng­land’s head coach of­fered a bru­tally hon­est as­sess­ment of where his team stand two years out from the tour­na­ment that may come to de­fine his time in charge.

No one dis­putes that Eng­land have im­proved im­mea­sur­ably un­der his guid­ance but to kick on to the next level may prove their great­est chal­lenge. Ahead of them now lies two years of in­tense hard work on the train­ing pitch.

Jones in­sists his for­wards, in par­tic­u­lar, must be re­con­di­tioned to be able to cope with the de­mands of the mod­ern game. He in­tends to bring in fit­ness spe­cial­ists, in­clud­ing Dave Red­din, Eng­land’s strength and con­di­tion­ing coach when Sir Clive Woodward’s side won the World Cup in 2003, to help draw up the fit­ness plan in con­junc­tion with the Pre­mier­ship clubs.

Jimmy Rad­cliffe, the Univer­sity of Ore­gon’s highly re­spected strength and con­di­tion­ing coach, and for­mer mixed mar­tial arts fighter Dean Amasinger, will also be in­volved.

“They’re not fit enough to win the World Cup, and we want to win the World Cup,” said Jones of his play­ers, who have just re­turned from a week­long train­ing camp in the Al­garve.

“You don’t have to be fit enough now to win the World Cup, you have to be fit enough to win the World Cup at 19:59 on Novem­ber 2 2019 [the date of the fi­nal]. We’ve got some great plans in place to fix that.” The move comes as Jones pre­pares to take his for­wards to an un­prece­dented scrum­mag­ing and line-out ses­sion against Wales at Clifton Col­lege, with Eng­land prop Harry Wil­liams warn­ing that the confrontation be­tween the two in­ter­na­tional packs could “all kick off ” and billed it as “the Bat­tle of Bris­tol”.

Eng­land’s front five for­wards also look set to bear the brunt of the heav­i­est work­load of Jones’s new in­ten­sive fit­ness cam­paign as he bids to close what he per­ceives to be a “20 per cent” gap to world cham­pi­ons New Zealand.

Jones in­sists his for­wards must be con­di­tioned to be able to cope with the chang­ing de­mands of the mod­ern game, and has tasked his coach­ing team to pre­dict the type of game plan that is likely to be the most dom­i­nant at the World Cup in Ja­pan to en­sure they plan the fit­ness regime ac­cord­ingly.

“In the tight five the game’s go­ing to­wards re­peat in­ten­sity – re­peat ac­cel­er­a­tions, re­peat col­li­sions – and it’s about how quickly you get back to your feet and get in­volved,” said Jones. “In a game of rugby you’ve gen­er­ally got two play­ers on the ball, and then you’ve got the off-the-ball peo­ple. The for­wards have got to have that abil­ity to do at least two ef­forts at ab­so­lute in­ten­sity and with ex­e­cu­tion, and these guys here have then got to be able to ex­e­cute with skill and with pace, and they only get one chance to do it.

“Then that ball moves, that ball now goes here, and these guys [for­wards] have got to be able to spread and do the same thing in this area and re­peat it, and then these guys [backs] have got to move over here and be look­ing for the space. So for the tight five it’s about that re­peat ac­cel­er­a­tion, re­peat col­li­sions, whereas the out­side backs it’s more about re­peat speed.

“We’re go­ing to have a pre­sen­ta­tion about where we see the changes in the game go­ing, and what then are the im­pli­ca­tions for the play­ers, be­cause they’re play­ers that have been in the game for 10 years and they’ve done the same thing, and they’ve got to change the way they train now. ” The Eng­land play­ers re­ceived their first taste of the new regime with wrestling ses­sions over­seen by Amasinger at Vil­am­oura.

“We’re al­ways look­ing for ad­vice from out­side be­cause there’s al­ways smarter peo­ple than us, and we’re not afraid to get smarter peo­ple to come in and tell us we’re dumb,” Jones added. “We’ve been to the Univer­sity of Ore­gon and Jimmy Rad­cliffe, one of the most bril­liant strength and con­di­tion­ing coaches. We’re get­ting him to come over for the last week against Samoa to look at what we’re do­ing.”

Those play­ers who had been on the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions tour of New Zealand did most of the wrestling as Jones put them on a dif­fer­ent con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme to take ac­count of the phys­i­cal de­mands of the tour. The play­ers still found it a pun­ish­ing sched­ule.

“We were up at 5.30am as our first ses­sion was at 6am, and then we’re wrestling by about 6.30am. It’s been chal­leng­ing, but fun,” said Court­ney Lawes, one of the Lions tourists.

“Dean has been teach­ing us some stuff that re­lates to rugby and it al­ways ends up with wrestling. I watch a lot of UFC [Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship]. I think Maro [Itoje] went well when he did some things, he’s the strong­est – I’m prob­a­bly more tech­ni­cal. And we’ve been down to the beach to do some line-outs, so it’s been good.”

One of the crit­i­cisms of Eng­land’s con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme ahead of the 2015 World Cup was that it put too great an em­pha­sis on en­durance, which did not pay div­i­dends as the matches did not in­volve as many multi-phase at­tacks as ex­pected and were in­stead de­cided by at­tacks based on short, pow­er­ful bursts and col­li­sions.

“It is dif­fi­cult,” con­ceded Jones. “The World Cup is the only time you have got the team for three months. You see sides go to the World Cup, they are ei­ther over­pre­pared or un­der-pre­pared. It is get­ting that bal­ance right. How do you get it right? Speak to as many smart peo­ple as

‘The game’s go­ing to­wards re­peat in­ten­sity – and it’s how quickly you get back to your feet’

you can, get the bal­ance right be­tween phys­i­cal train­ing, tac­ti­cal train­ing, so­cial rest. We are up to draft 10 on our World Cup plan now of how we are go­ing to do it. We’ve had a dis­cus­sion about the ‘cy­cle of fast­ness’ now and how we project it is go­ing to be. I said, ‘No, it might not be like that be­cause we don’t know’ so we have to be care­ful.

“There is a base level that you need, and then you have to be look­ing in­di­vid­u­ally at how you can im­prove play­ers, and then the speci­ficity of where the game is comes in the last three months.”

Fit for pur­pose: Ed­die Jones over­sees an Eng­land train­ing ses­sion at Vil­am­oura in Por­tu­gal last Wed­nes­day; the for­wards, in par­tic­u­lar, he said, must be re­con­di­tioned in or­der to meet the phys­i­cal de­mands of the mod­ern game

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