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Saturday 27 February 2021
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'We're in nursery school, Liverpool are doing their PhD at Oxford University'

England boss Eddie Jones explained how the Premier League club has inspired them.

EDDIE JONES SAYS England have taken inspiration from Premier League champions Liverpool as they look to continue to improve.

The England boss recently met with Liverpool’s director of research, Ian Graham, to discuss the club’s work in assessing the work-rate of players off the ball.

Last year’s World Cup finalists were too strong for Ireland in their Autumn Nations Cup clash at Twickenham on Saturday, with the English defence impressing following two first-half tries for wing Jonny May.

eddie-jones Eddie Jones' England beat Ireland again on Saturday. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

May’s first try saw him leap to gather Owen Farrell’s crossfield kick and his sublime second score came directly from an Ireland lineout overthrow in the English 22, something that greatly pleased head coach Jones.

“I was really pleased with our two tries which are something we have been working on – our attacking kicks inside the 22 and also our transitional play.

“I really enjoyed Jonny May’s ‘flick the switch’ try where we went from defence to attack, 100 metres to score a try which wasn’t an area where we have been fantastic at.

“So it was a good development today, mate.”

Jones explained that England have been dedicating more training time to being effective in those turnover situations. 

“We’ve divided the coaching team up into three areas: attack, defence and ‘flick the switch,’” said Jones.

“I’m nominally the ‘flick the switch’ co-ordinator but all the other coaches do all the work. We have just created games that mimic those situations.

“We had a great meeting with the Liverpool analysis team and that’s one area we are starting to develop our own database and starting to use some tracking from a company called Sport Ability that is helping us in that area, to measure work off the ball, which is so important in this transitional part.

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“So it is a pretty exciting area for us. You saw that try today where we shifted the ball quickly to the outside and then it was a leg race. There are not too many people in the world who can beat Jonny in a leg race.”

mohamed-salah-and-jurgen-klopp-file-photo Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp. Source: PA

While Jones joked about not having the chance to meet Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp – “He is a bit hard to get to, mate, he doesn’t speak to a lowly rugby coach like me” – he said the meeting with Graham was eye-opening.

Jones’ interest had been piqued by reading the book Believe Us by Melissa Reddy, which outlines Liverpool’s use of data and analytics to improve their game.

“Football sides are advanced in being able to manage the players off the ball,” said Jones. “If you look at any stats you get [in rugby], like Opta stats, they are only concerned with information on the ball.

“As we know, Mako Vunipola today, he might have made 20 tackles and probably carried the ball three times, so for 79 minutes and 45 seconds he was not with the ball, but his movement off the ball is crucial to what we do when we transition. 

“So we are starting to get some measurement on that. We are like… what’s underneath kindergarten? Nursery.

“We’re in nursery school now, whereas Liverpool are doing their PhD at Oxford University. We have got a fair way to go, mate.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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