Tuesday 20 August 2019

Eddie Jones considers taking England squad to Georgia for training session during Six Nations

England head coach Eddie Jones. Photo: PA
England head coach Eddie Jones. Photo: PA

Gavin Mairs

Eddie Jones is exploring the unprecedented move of flying his England squad to Tbilisi for a training session with Georgia midway through the Six Nations campaign.

Any trip would take place in one of the two fallow weeks during the championship, either after the match against Wales at Twickenham on Feb 10 or the Murrayfield match with Scotland on Feb 24.

England are also considering training sessions against Wales, Scotland and Italy in a bid to create history by becoming the first side to win three outright Six Nations titles in a row.

The plan is one of a number of ground-breaking initiatives under  consideration by Jones. “We have got a few up our sleeve,” he said. “Tblisi is a nice place at this time of year. We have got a couple of fallow weeks and we have got plans.

“We are 100 per cent [looking at a trip to Georgia]. Tbilisi is cold, it has a great red wine. It’s fantastic. And the meat is good – and good Roman bars.

“We are planning what we are going to do. We have a good relationship with Scotland, Wales, don’t know about  Ireland – too far to go Ireland – and Georgia, so there’s potential. And Italy.”

The flight from London to the former Soviet republic would take over six hours and the players would also have to acclimatise to four-hour time difference but Jones is determined to use the championship to recreate the travel and logistical challenges that his squad might face at the World Cup in Japan next year, as well as improve the intensity of their training sessions.

“They [Georgia] have a massive scrum,” Jones added. “They have the strongest pack in the world. Their babies are born with beards! To improve our training that is one thing we are looking at it, who can we get a higher quality of opposition.”

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Jones organised a similar in-house training session against Wales ahead of England’s autumn international against Argentina last November. “The players absolutely loved it because when they train they want to get something out of it,” he said. “If they want to train and just go through the motions they are the wrong players. Our players are  developing a great attitude that they want to train to get better. The only way you get better is to scrummage against people who are better than you. The travel makes it tougher.”

England go to the Algrave in Portugal this week for a warm-weather camp and Jones has planned an intensive training regime that he says the players will never have experienced before with the objective of becoming the fittest side in the championship.

“The first three days will be like a mini pre-season,” Jones added. “So they won’t be doing much rugby, they will be doing some base running and base lifting and some base tactical work before they get into the team work. So it will be a completely different camp than they have experienced in the past.

“It is always intense. You don’t get anywhere in life doing things easy. I have never seen any team in the world who wins consistently that trains soft. I don’t understand that in English rugby. I really struggle with that when you train hard you are ‘beasting’ the player. It is a contradiction of terms. The game tests you all the time. If you don’t prepare for that, how do you expect to win?

“We want to get to an absolute peak during the Six Nations. You have got to keep moving. You can be very good team 18 months from the World Cup but if you don’t keep developing, that advantage you had could be gone.”

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