England were beaten by France in Paris and Jones made a simple statement to their players the next day
Updated Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 11:37 a.m.
In the Eddie Jones Coaching podcast released on Tuesday, the English coach told Conor O’Shea that he spent the past week watching each of his team’s Six Nations matches. He didn’t specify whether it was his first rewatch or his 20th – an educated guess would suggest that it is unlikely to have been his very first – but said he had learned three or four new things from each game.
It won’t be surprising to anyone who has followed Jones’ career that his days are spent watching tape after tape on his side, trying to find solutions to all the problems. One of his assistant coaches tells how after a heartbreaking loss after the last game in a tournament, he was texted at midnight “inviting him” to a 6-hour video analytics session to assess defeat. It’s no coincidence that coaches often find it difficult to support his diet for long periods of time. Days off are like oases in the desert.
One game he could have watched more closely than the others during his lockouts was England’s loss to France. The Six Nations favorites were blown away in Paris on the opening weekend of the tournament and Jones may now have many theories as to why. But immediately, he made a simple remark to his players.
“We put a slide [that said] “Entrances at 22: England 24, France 15”. It was basically the game review, “said Jones.
“Okay, so we guys did that, but we didn’t win the game. We have done a lot of good things, so how are we going to change that? “
“In these situations, especially when it’s like that, always give players more responsibility to come up with the answers. Give them positive direction but let them solve the problems themselves. “
It sounds counterintuitive to hear a coach as intense and direct as Jones admits to letting his players make decisions for themselves, but that is clearly a key philosophy of his own. He talks at length about spending training sessions designing different types of situations for players to get out of, giving them time to come together and talk about how to do it.
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When he started as England coach, he lamented that he could not transform a group of players in terms of athletics or tactics. It’s a shame that O’Shea didn’t emphasize how useful this training could have been in 2017, when his Italian team left England scratching their heads with ingenious “no ruck” tactics at Twickenham.
But England have evolved as a team in the past three years and have more leaders in their ranks, especially Captain Owen Farrell. Former All Black coach John Mitchell is nominally a defense coach, but it seems that Farrell is often in charge.
“The chief of our defense is Owen,” added Jones.
“He is a fairly noisy, aggressive, assertive and [he and John Mitchell] have a fantastic balance together. John is happy that Owen is taking the lead, but sometimes John will come and give a few details.
“If you have a more confident coach, then you need a captain who is a little quieter. What you don’t want is too much information for players. The job of the coach is to find the right balance. “
One thing Jones reiterates is that overloading players is too easy a mistake and that they can, at most, remember three things from any conversation, and that is how he build their game plans.
Building your team is a more complex process, but always with basic founding principles.
“If the players can be better than the players you have, choose them now. They don’t have to be better now, ”said a coach. One of the main beneficiaries of this policy was apparently Tom Curry.
“I remember seeing Tom for 20 minutes and I thought” this kid is going to be successful “. We took him to Argentina at 18, “said Jones.
“Sometimes you have to be patient with these kids because they will have ups and downs, but if they have something about them, choose them. Choose the kids with the things you can’t coach.
“It’s easy to coach attitude, hard work and work ethic, but X factors are the things you can’t coach. “
Curry got his start in England, the team’s youngest striker for 100 years, on this tour of Argentina in 2017 and soon Jones’s intuition turned out to be correct. He started each 2019 Six Nations game and traveled to Japan, where he was instrumental in the race to the World Cup final.
If you ever needed a reason to trust Eddie Jones for the future of England, those 20 minutes watching Tom Curry should be proof enough.