Nights out on the town and high jinx will be off the agenda for Eddie Jones’ England players throughout the upcoming Test rugby resumption. The 2020 Six Nations will reach completion at the end of October following by the one-off four-round Autumn Nations Cup and Jones is adamant his players must respect the anti-coronavirus measures that will be taken to ensure the England squad remains free of the virus and doesn’t take chances with their health. 

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England football manager Gareth Southgate last month sent two players home from Finland after they reportedly threatened the integrity of the squad’s bubble by bringing people into the team hotel.  

Jones now hopes reprimands along those lines will not be necessary with his rugby squad, whose build-up towards an October 25 exhibition match with the Barbarians began with the assembly of a 28-man squad that was later reduced to 27 on Tuesday after Piers Francis tested positive for the virus.  

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England will face Italy in Rome six days later before a fallow weekend is the followed by four matches over consecutive weekends through to early December. All the while, Jones will demand his players stay on the best behaviour and respect the health protocols.  

“We are breaking the campaign down into blocks so the first block is until the end of Italy and until then we have to keep as isolated as we can, making sure that we don’t increase the risk of any communal infection,” he explained. 

“Then we will have a break and the players will need to be disciplined once they go home and then we come in again for another couple of games and then we will have a break again and then have the next couple of games. That is how we are dealing with it,” he said.

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Rugby in England has generated headlines for the wrong reasons in recent days after the major virus outbreak at Sale threw the Gallagher Premiership into chaos. “I can’t comment on the Sale situation, I don’t know anything about it,” continued England boss Jones. 

“But what I can comment on is we have looked at various teams around the world to see how they handle it and there has been a consistency in what we have to do and that is you have to communicate well from the top down and from the bottom up. 

“You have to have an agreement about life in the bubble because it’s the first time we have had the players with us and then have a smile on our faces and get on with it. We should be so grateful for this opportunity. I’ve got a smile on my face because I’m so excited to be coaching England again. I expect the players to have a smile on their faces when they come in. They will understand their responsibilities but, like young men, we all make mistakes. 

“When you are in your twenties and thirties, sometimes you make mistakes. We have seen coaches of 75 years of age make mistakes in the NRL, so none of us are exempt from it. It’s going to be a constant drive to be as good as we can be in that area. We have to reduce the chances of communal infection which means that we don’t have any contact with the community. By default, that means we will be staying in the Lensbury.

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“I anticipate that every player coming in will be committed to that. But like every other young man around the world at the moment, they have discipline issues. We want to minimise those discipline issues but I can’t guarantee that they won’t happen. We will certainly be striving to be a very disciplined team.”

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