England head coach Eddie Jones has revealed to the England Rugby Podcast: O2 Inside Line exactly what he and his players learnt from a meeting with Manchester United’s legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Speaking ahead of the opening Six Nations tie with France he praised the Scot and explained his key coaching messages:
“I think you have always got to look at people who are smarter than you, so in my case that is not too hard but you are always for people who have been successful. So we were lucky enough to have Sir Alex Ferguson come in and he was absolutely outstanding, he just spoke to the players… simple messages. You always find with the winning people that the messages are simple, it’s never too complex because the game is complex and what you are trying to do is make everything simple.
“One of the things we took from Fergie was the great term they used to have ‘Fergie time.’ Be patient. Don’t try to overplay the game. Just be patient and do your job. From a coaching point of view just reinforcing the importance of observation. You get all this data now, every morning you get sheets of paper on the players, the greatest thing for you now is the observation of the players. The brilliance of the simplicity of the message.”
After a remarkable but ultimately disappointing 2019 which saw Jones’ men finish second at the World Cup and miss out on the Six Nations title, the gaffer has his sights set on an incredibly successful 2020, starting with the Grand Slam. When asked what his side would do differently this year he replied:
“Raise the standards. We want to be the most dominant team in the world and to do that we have got to raise the standards. We want to be the most dominant team that world rugby has ever seen.
“It’s important the new coaching team realises that there were some great things we did, but how can we do them better? It is a massive opportunity for us to keep growing. France are probably the most advanced you can see the country starting to get behind the French team so they will be a powerful force.”
“The first couple of days will be like pre-season training. Not too much activity, a lot of talk, what could we have done better, because at the end of the day there are some things to learn from it so we have got to make sure we learn. Then we will do some light training, start our preparation on the Saturday before the Sunday game and where we can make some changes to what we have done and then we are into France.”
The Aussie-born coach has now been in charge of the England team for a remarkable four years and the side has transformed almost immeasurably since he has taken over. In 2015, England had been eliminated in the group stage of their own World Cup and standards needed to be improved. In came Jones and he has done just that:
“If you look back four years ago, we set a vision for the team to become the most dominant team in the world, now we didn’t quite get there but if you set the bar high and you go this far, you are still doing pretty well and that is what we did. Secondly, the need for just to keep being fresh about what you do. We did that pretty well in the four years and kept the team fairly fresh, kept the training fairy fresh, so we made it so the players felt excited about what they were doing. Thirdly, be England. Don’t try and copy anyone else, be ourselves. Play the game to our strengths and we did that and we showed you can be successful.
“One of the other things is that we set the goal of not only being the best team in the world but for the players to not want the experience to end. We wanted them to have a great experience because it is a fantastic thing in life and I think the players had a fantastic experience so I think we achieved that goal and you know there were a couple of players who came up and said ‘I don’t want this to end’ which is a nice feeling to have.”
As for what the fans can expect this year, Jones sent out a clear and concise message:
“It was a rollercoaster ride in 2019, 2020 will be the same. So hang onto your seats and get ready.”
England’s Six Nations campaign begins on Sunday 2 February at 15:00 when they take on France.