Thursday 18 January 2018

No excuses for England after ideal World Cup schedule, admits Jones

The 2019 World Cup match schedule has been revealed in Japan
The 2019 World Cup match schedule has been revealed in Japan

Eddie Jones accepts there can be no excuses if England fail to mount a meaningful World Cup challenge after being presented with the perfect schedule for Japan 2019.

The quest to supplant New Zealand as global champions begins against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22 and continues 1,000 miles away and a mere four days later against the United States in Kobe.

Once that arduous opening has been negotiated, however, England face a kind itinerary that takes in the pivotal clashes against Argentina and France in Tokyo on October 5 and Yokohama a week later.

Meanwhile, their heavyweight Pool C rivals in the competition's toughest group must face each other on the opening weekend.

"If you were doing the ideal world and wanted to set it up, that's how you'd want it. So we have no excuses," Jones said.

"Whatever the draw, you have to win four games and the great thing for us is that we have got really good locations.

"The advantage of being a big team, so they want us to play in big grounds at the end of the pool."

Jones will visit Japan in early December to finalise logistical plans and the former Japan and Australia coach, who also worked with South Africa in 2007 on a consultancy basis, is hoping to establish a central base and make only fleeting visits to match cities.

The proposal requires permission from the World Cup's organising committee and may be viewed as not being in keeping with the spirit of the tournament.

"I don't think it's radical. When Japan went to England, you do whatever you're told to do," Jones said.

"With South Africa in France we controlled a lot of it and then obviously for Australia in Australia, we were able to control everything.

"Japan is going to be fairly unique, so they have to be quite flexible in the way you are allowed to set up as a team there."

Jones admits his knowledge of Japan will give England a slight advantage when their Webb Ellis Cup quest begins, but compares the efforts of rivals to familiarise themselves with uncharted territory in World Cup terms as an "arms race".

"It gives us a head-start, but that's it. As you can see, every team is clamouring to play over there," Jones said.

"Every team is finding a way to get the knowledge of Japan. Scotland have already decided on their training base. Wales have already decided on their training base.

"Teams are well advanced in their thought processes, so it's bit like an arms race. Everyone is racing to get knowledge to maximise their opportunities there."

Elsewhere, Pool A rivals Ireland and Scotland face each other on September 22 in Yokohama, while Pool D challengers Wales tackle Georgia first-up at the City of Toyota Stadium on September 23.

The 2019 match schedule was announced in Japan on Thursday, with the opening round of pool fixture clashes also featuring a heavyweight clash between reigning world champions New Zealand and their Rugby Championship rivals South Africa.

Wales' potentially-pivotal encounter against Australia is in Tokyo on September 29.

Press Association

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