Eddie Jones believes the financial crisis impacting on rugby due to the coronavirus will ignite a trend in the game the England coach has sparked up in recent times. The Australian came in for widespread criticism for selecting players such as Tom Curry and Jonathan Joseph outside their traditional positions, but he reckons this type of flexibility will become the norm – not the exception – whenever rugby eventually emerges from the pandemic.
The depth of the financial crisis in the English game means it is facing losses of up to £50million in 2020, while professional clubs in the Premiership and Championship have had to furlough staff in an effort to cut costs following the stoppage of the sport.
England boss Jones, who recently signed a contract taking him through to the 2023 World Cup, now reckons these cutbacks could result in rugby becoming more inventive and look to have more skilled, multi-positional players as the cost of the current squad depths will become unmanageable in the short-term future.
Speaking on life in the time of coronavirus in a video posted on his agent’s Instagram feed, Jones claimed: “How teams operate will be different. Every sport, particularly rugby, has been blown up through television rights and what will happen is that squads will become smaller and will need more multi-skilled players.
“We got criticised a lot for playing like Tom Curry, who can play six, seven and No8, but they are the sort of players you’re going to need to have: Jack Nowell being able to play wing or flanker, Ben Earl being able to play flanker or wing.
“Also in terms of your staff, you’re going to need multi-skilled staff – a coach that can coach across spectrums, physios who can do strength and conditioning… I would imagine that’s the same in any business. So my message would be to learn what you can now, find a way to be active and productive and be ready for the future.
“When we get through this it will be a different place and we are looking at the fact that the season will change, which will only be positive. Rugby has grown sort of higgledy-piggledy since the start of international rugby and there is an opportunity for it to get better.”
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