England head coach Eddie Jones has revealed much of his coaching philosophies, his life journey, some of his tactics and provided an insight into the teams he has coached over his career in a wide-ranging interview with The High Performance Podcast.
He talked about the process he went through when taking over the England side after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where he immediately tried to get a read on the players and work out who he could keep and who needed to go.
“Your ability to get a feel for the group I think is important,” he told The High Performance Podcast.
“You walk into a team for the first time, you look at the players and you think ‘right, who do I need on my side here immediately, who do I need to get rid of, who maybe I can keep’, and you work in with those players.
Jones explained that when he decided who would stay in the environment, it came down to whether he thought that player could have a positive influence and singled out James Haskell.
“People who are going to be a positive influence that either have a massive work ethic, or have great character. Probably a good example is [James] Haskell with England, he’d been a bits and pieces player and he had something about him.
“You could tell the boys liked him, but wasn’t possibly brave enough to be himself. So what I tried to do was get him to be himself.
“A big physical guy, play like that, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and then be that life of the party type character off the field.”
England’s coach revealed he had used a motivation technique to draw the best out of Haskell by guaranteeing him a spot in the team for the entire Six Nations campaign, and highlighted the need to be either apply pressure or take pressure off certain players.
“It is always the communication you have with them. I think at the start of the Six Nations I guaranteed him a spot in the team for the whole tournament, to make him believe. To take the pressure off him.
“Your always trying to put pressure on or take pressure off, and your ability to read what they need at that particular time is important.”
Jones says he learnt to ‘read the room’ inside a team environment from his friend who managed hotels.
“Go and watch a general manager at a hotel, I learnt more from watching hotel general managers than anywhere else.
“I used to have a mate who had a hotel around here, used to run the Tokyo Hilton, I’d go and have dinner with and he was a rugby fan.
“We’d go and have dinner and I’d watch him, he’d give me full attention but he’d be able to see whether that waiter put down the knives and forks correctly. And then he’d call them over and give them a word straight away. It was a brilliant lesson in observation.”
When queried about the mental side of rugby and the tactical side, Jones said he believed they are intertwined and must be in synergy. He then talked about how he had gamed the All Blacks at the World Cup, using his media strategy to put them under more pressure.
“The mental side is how you are thinking about the game, and the tactical side is just the employment of those thoughts.
“I’ve got a guy called David Pembroke in Australia who cultivates the media strategy. And I don’t follow it 100%, as some of the ideas are way out here, but he wants to control the environment.
“And the best one was for that New Zealand semi [2019 World Cup]. We immediately went out on attack at the start of the week, we wanted the New Zealand media to put pressure onto the New Zealand team.
“We called the journalists fans with keyboards, and he created the idea of circling the All Blacks during their haka,” he explained.
England stunned the All Blacks with a 19-7 win in a dominant display, while their reponse to the haka generated a lot of buzz.
“I’ve got another sports psych who is a tactician, absolute tactician. So he will say, ‘they’ll be thinking this, you’ve gotta be thinking this’, now how can you employ that. He’s got some weird and wonderful ideas, again, we don’t use them all.
“I think that is one of the things is to get that synergy, if that makes sense (between mental side and tactical side)”.
“I think all the other stuff is the easy stuff. Getting players fit is easy, it’s just effort, it’s having the right programme, having good coaches.”
“On the technical side, at the international level, we don’t really coach rugby, we are just trying to get a team organised, thinking the same way.”
Jones spoke of his desire to keep coaching international rugby in search of ‘coaching the perfect game’, an idea that he would field a team so good they would be ‘impossible’ to play against.
“I want to coach the perfect game,” he explained.
“Now, in a professional game of rugby if you can control 50 minutes of the game, you will win the game, and I want a team that can control it for 80 minutes.
“Imagine going out there and you are impossible to play against. Impossible.
“When you’ve got the ball, they can’t get it off you, when they’ve got the ball, they’ve got so much pressure they are giving it back to you and that’s unrelenting. That would be fascinating.”
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