England will not be negatively affected by their extended break when they face Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, according to an expert in strength and conditioning.


With their final Pool C fixture against France, which was scheduled to take place in Yokohama last weekend, cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, Eddie Jones’ men will head into the last-eight clash against the Wallabies in Oita with two weeks having passed since they last played a match. Australia completed their group games with a 27-8 victory over Georgia last Friday.

Rich Hunwicks, a director at the UK Strength and Conditioning Association, believes there is no danger of England being ‘under-cooked’ for Saturday’s game. Hunwicks said: “My belief, with the experience of Eddie Jones and the staff, is the two-week break won’t be any issue to the team.

“What team staff and the players will do is tailor their training accordingly. The mentality side will be ‘we do what it takes’, and the physiology side of it will be catered for through the different training components they have. I believe they’ll try to simulate match play in some form, exposing players to the right levels but minimise collision to make sure they are recovered, refreshed and ready for the quarter-final.

“The team will train in relatively high-intensity blocks anyway, and Eddie and his staff will replicate match demands that doesn’t exceed that, so allow them to get the exposure they need in-house. They have a squad capable of training fiercely amongst one another. To that end it will be certainly no negative, it will probably be a positive.”

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Hunwicks, who is head of performance at Catalans Dragons, was previously head of human performance for England Rugby League and did strength and conditioning work with George Ford when the England fly-half was a teenager, added: “As an advantage or disadvantage – it is basically turning up to do your job regardless of the circumstance or scenario.

“But one of the things that does come about through competitive matchplay is injury and that’s often through collision. England have had a reduced risk of collision-based injury, which from a medical and a physical performance point of view, the staff will be reasonably pleased with.”

Professor Greg Whyte, an expert in sports and exercise medicine, feels that overall the hiatus is likely to be to England’s benefit. He thinks their only potential problem regarding the extended break is on the psychological front and is confident they are equipped to handle things in that area.


Whyte, a former Olympic modern pentathlete who is a professor of applied sport and exercise at Liverpool John Moores University and director of performance at the Centre for Health and Human Performance, said: “You think two weeks between games – that’s no different to the Six Nations, to the autumn series. So to some extent, it’s what they are used to, that would be the normal environment.

“From a physical perspective, additional recovery would actually probably be beneficial. Potentially it works in England’s favour because they [Australia] have fewer days of recovery. That is a positive for England. Technically and tactically, I don’t think it will make any difference at all really. The fact that Australia played on Friday and they (England) got to look at their format and game strategy, again it might even play into England’s hands.

“The only potential downfall could be psychologically – that is that for probably a period of two years plus, the team and support staff have been prepping for a given model of when they’re going to play, and that model has been disrupted.

“It will come down to how individuals cope with that delay and how the team approach it, whether they can actually respond positively to it. Given the expertise they have on their support staff, you would imagine they have taken care of this.

“It’s about making sure every individual on the team has got the right support they require so they can cope with that change in the schedule. If they take that individualised approach, I would say overall it is of no concern. However, get that wrong, and it could have a profound effect on the pitch.”

Whyte added: “Generally I would say it [the extended break] is a positive, but it will only be a positive if they can cope with it psychologically.

“Psychologically is probably the one area where it could make a (negative) difference, but with a team this well prepared and supported, with the experience they have on the pitch, I would be very surprised if it was a negative influence.”

– Press Association 

WATCH: England hold a full-blooded training session to make up for cancelled France game

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