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Eddie Jones' 'secret' 5am CCTV surveillance of his England squad

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ashley Western/CameraSport via Getty Images)

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Mike Brown has revealed that Eddie Jones used to organise 5am walkthroughs for his England squad that the coach didn’t turn up for but would instead secretly watch on a CCTV camera to police the reaction of the players. The Australian’s appointment as head coach from 2016 onwards ushered in a very different era than what the full-back and his teammates had been used to under Stuart Lancaster and Jones took it to an extreme in certain instances. 

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It was 2018 in South Africa when Brown won the last of his 72 England caps, a figure set in stone when he challenged Jones about his exclusion from the 2019 World Cup squad. The 36-year-old, who is on the lookout for a new club after being told his one-year Newcastle deal won’t be extended, has now recounted at length his experiences under Jones at Test level in the latest Rugby Roots interview on RugbyPass with Jim Hamilton. 

The interview, filmed quayside in Newcastle, is a rollicking 57-minute gallop through a stellar career and Jones naturally was a big talking point. Brown spoke about how hard the players were worked by the coach and how that intensity was another level again regarding his staff where there continues to be a frequent turnover in personnel. 

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Mike Brown | Rugby Roots
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Mike Brown | Rugby Roots

“I remember someone said the holiday is over for us and they weren’t wrong,” said Brown, focusing on the time when Jones inherited the England mess that was getting knocked out at the group stage of their own World Cup in 2015. 

“It was an eye-opener into what is required at the highest level in terms of preparation and doing your extras and recovery and all those little bits, the way Eddie sees the game and learning from that, leaning from little things, different scenarios and how you can deal with different things was a massive eye-opener.”

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There was seemingly never a moment’s respite at Camp Eddie. “It’s standards, it’s on you all the time in training in terms of your standards and work rate and the effort. I remember the first meeting he gave us, our ranking was one or two above Fiji or something or Japan and he basically told us that was unacceptable. You’re currently seventh in the world, Japan are eighth, and their tallest lock is 6ft, it’s fuckin’ basically saying that. 

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“That was the first meeting… Then he abused (James) Haskell a little bit which was quite funny, you got a sense of his sharp tongue. And then it was just an eye-opener into what you need to succeed at the highest level and how intense it was going to be, so he has us up at 5am to do team walkthroughs. Sometimes he wouldn’t turn up but apparently, he was watching on this CCTV camera and it was linked up to the analysis room and he was watching on there to see how we would react if no coaches turned up, what we would do ourselves and he could pick out people who were messing around. 

“Dylan knew what was going on so he had everyone in check. But he was just on you, bottles on the floor, onto you about GPS. He is big on GPS so if you haven’t run enough high-speed meters or distance or whatever he is measuring you on at that point, he would be why the fuck are you not putting it in at training?

“Marland Yarde, for example, when he was in camp he basically stood on the wing during the whole of one session and during that session, he’d seen foxes hanging around the bushes so from then on he was called the Fox because he was just hanging around the bushes with the foxes doing nothing.”

Brown then spoke about the multiple staff Jones has had to work with England. “In terms of the turnaround of staff, he is hard on the players and then he is another level for the staff. So I can understand why people don’t last very long there because it must be tough being part of his staff. When he has got his starting group he is really good with them. I’m not so sure when you are not in that group how good he is dealing with that. 

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“There is a bit of confirmation bias, so that is why I have not picked you and if you do it once I’m going to be on to you about that and miss all the good stuff. Is he as good at motivating people that aren’t in his thoughts to be in his selected 23 or 15 or whatever, I’m not sure? But in terms of his rugby knowledge, he is a smart, clever, rugby intelligent guy, so you can learn a lot from him that way about the game.

“In terms of building an environment that is very intense, geared towards high performing, yes he is good and he might have the level okay now because they seem to enjoy the environment where we maybe didn’t as much as they do now. There is a much tighter group with England now from what comes out of the camp. I’m not in there so I don’t know but with Ellis Genge and people like that, they get a lot more enjoyment than we did as a group from being in that environment which is great to see.”   

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