English rugby chiefs have dismissed as “absolute rubbish” a claim that head coach Eddie Jones is having to use his own salary to pay for coaching consultants to help prepare the England team just a year away from the World Cup in Japan.
RugbyPass understands there is genuine anger at the Rugby Football Union following a claim in the Daily Mail that the most powerful and highest earning Union in the sport was asking its head coach to put his hand in his own pocket to fund the squad’s preparations.
Despite the RFU currently making redundancies and cutting back on expensive projects, including installing artificial pitches around England, the estimated £30m budget to cover the World Cup preparations, which includes player payments and bonuses, is ring fenced.
That figure is similar to the overspend the RFU has made on fitting out the East Stand which has triggered concerns over their financial health.
However, the running of the England team will not be affected by the £30m loss on the refurbishment and that includes the position of Richard Hill, the former British and Irish Lions and England flanker, who is the team manager. Hill’s position has not been the subject of debate and he remains a key member of Jones’s support staff.
Besides acting as Jones’s right hand man in the build up to test matches, Hill has a key role liaising with the Premiership clubs while also acting as mentor for the back row forwards in the squad. Hill has taken a close interest in the career of Bath openside Sam Underhill who has been mentored by the 2003 World Cup winning flanker throughout his representative rugby.
Jones has used various specialist consultants at training since taking up the post in following the 2015 World Cup debacle and they have included Jonny Wilkinson, George Smith, Glen Ella, Andrew Johns, Dr Sherylle Calder, Marc Dal Maso and Graham Dawe. Wilkinson remains as a kicking consultant and lives close to the England training base at Bagshot and is a neighbour of the head coach, who also has a home in Surrey.
Jones has held meetings with his RFU bosses to map out the 12 month schedule leading into the World Cup and this starts with a week long training camp in Portugal before the first of four November tests against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. For the first time, England will name their team in Portugal and then fly back to London on the Thursday before they take on the Springboks on November 3.
This is designed to maximise the warm weather training opportunity while also replicating the kind of travelling for matches that will be faced at the World Cup.
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