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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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State of the art games room to keep England occupied at the Lensbury

By Liam Heagney
Alex Dombrandt at training with England (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England boss Eddie Jones can’t thank energy drinks brand Red Bull enough their help in providing in-hotel distractions for the Australian coach’s players at their new Lensbury base in London.    

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With cashflow a problem at the RFU due to financial cutbacks caused by the coronavirus, England are no longer using Pennyhill Park, the luxury hotel which had for a long time been their traditional training base. 

Having now relocated from Bagshot to Teddington on the banks of the Thames, England are in the process during this initial three-day training week of testing their procedures to ensure the squad’s virus prevention bubble is as controlled as it can be.

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Those protocols will see the squad confined to base between now and early December when they are on England duty, placing added emphasis on Jones and co coming up with ways of keeping the players entertained when they are not working. 

Red Bull have apparently provided assistance with this and the fruits of this labour were unveiled to the preliminary England squad that arrived for training this week, a 28-strong camp that was reduced to 27 after midfielder Piers Francis tested positive for coronavirus.  

With Francis confined to self-isolation at home, the remainder of the England squad got aquainted with their new surroundings. “We’re lucky we have got Red Bull as a sponsor and they have set up a fantastic gaming lounge which is like state of the art,” explained Jones. “If I was 30 years younger I’d go in there but I feel a bit old walking in there. 

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“We have got putting greens, we’ve got all sorts of games. But the big thing is the players making their own enjoyment. Togetherness is about the players driving it, the senior players particularly are crucial in doing that. 

“We’ve tried to make the environment as friendly as we can and it’s a balance between hard work and enjoyment. The task is always to get that right. The staff have done a fantastic job setting up the Lensbury. We’re well equipped to handle what’s ahead of us.”

England have a six-match schedule which starts with the October 25 game versus the Barbarians and includes the completion of the 2020 Six Nations and the staging of the one-off Autumn Nations Cup. 

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