England will engage in a full-bore training-ground game against Georgia on Thursday as they look to regroup from their Guinness Six Nations defeat by Wales.


Eddie Jones is holding a three-day camp in Oxford to prepare for the clash with Italy on March 9 and the sessions are being conducted against feared scrummagers Georgia.

It will culminate in a 20-minute match scenario including live scrums and a contest for the ball to be refereed by Wayne Barnes with the players wearing padded suits for protection.

Georgia head coach Milton Haig views the time spent in Oxford as vital to Los Lelos’ development and has promised a “tasty” clash – a prospect being relished by England defence coach John Mitchell.

Mitchell said: “Our training with Georgia has been contestable and you like to win your contests!

“It creates a really good mental focus. Competition is good for everyone. Sometimes you can drill all you like but when you put it into a contest…..


England Training – Clifton Rugby Club
John Mitchell relished the opportunity of a competitive training session with Georgia (Ben Birchall/PA)

“Georgia are very set-piece orientated, they love scrummaging and they love line-out drives.

“Their backs have always been handy too, so both sides got a lot out of it this (Wednesday) morning. Tomorrow there will be intensity and there will be match scenarios.”

Georgia are ranked 12th in the world but outside the World Cup they are denied the opportunity to play tier-one nations, hampering their progress.


Training with England for the second time in as many years therefore offers an important yardstick with the World Cup looming in the autumn.

Ireland v England – Guinness Six Nations – Aviva Stadium
Maro Itoje (left) and Jonny May are set to play for England at the weekend after knocks (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“This is a big occasion for some of our guys – they’re testing themselves against some of the best players in the world. It’s a really good opportunity for us,” Haig said.

“We used last year’s hit out as bit of a measurement and we’ve referred back to it a lot.

“The England boys play it aggressive, which surprises some of our guys. I say to them ‘you’re now operating at this level’.”

England are seeking to nudge their Six Nations back on track after a 21-13 defeat in Cardiff left Wales as the only team capable of winning the Grand Slam.

England Training – Clifton College
John Mitchell is keen to get back on track after the defeat to Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

“That was a game that was there to be won. We had every opportunity to win and congratulations to Wales, they won the arm wrestle,” Mitchell said.

“It was a cracking Test match. It was a proper Test. What we need to focus on now is getting better and learning from that performance.

“There’s not a lot you really need to tweak because we have a particular way that we believe in. Clearly our strategy will improve because of the game in Cardiff.

“Wales have done us a huge favour in many ways because they have made us acutely aware of what we must fix. We need to do that as quickly as possible.”

Wing Jonny May and lock Maro Itoje are on course to play against Italy as they recover from their respective concussion and knee issues.

Press Association Sport

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