Ireland may have Liverpool to blame for Jonny May’s brace of tries on Saturday, as Eddie Jones revealed he has been working with the Premier League champions.
The men in green came undone at the hands of England again in their most recent encounter, with sensational winger May responsible for most of his side’s tally.
The first try of the afternoon saw May pluck the ball out of the air, despite Hugo Keenan’s best efforts, after a perfectly weighted cross-field kick by Owen Farrell.
The second came off the back of an Irish lineout in the opposition’s 22, with May taking advantage of a disorganised defence to score a wonderful individual try from over 80 metres out.
Jones was extremely pleased with both scores and explained how working with Liverpool’s director of research, Ian Graham, was partially responsible for both.
“We’ve divided the coaching team up into three areas: attack, defence and ‘flick the switch’. I’m nominally the flick the switch co-ordinator but all the other coaches do all the work. We have created games that mimic those situations.
“I think I mentioned we had a great meeting with the Liverpool analysis [team] and that’s one area we are starting to develop – our own database.
“[We’re] 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 the transitional part of the game.
“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 May in a leg race,” Jones commented.
‘We’re in nursery school, whereas Liverpool are doing their PHD”
The Australian revealed that, as far as he’s concerned, rugby has a lot of work to do if it hopes to catch up with football in tracking players’ movement off the ball.
Jones admitted that his side were far behind the likes of Liverpool in that regard but seemed determined to close the gap.
“Football sides are so advanced in being able to manage the players off the ball. If you look at any stats you get – like Opta stats – they are only concerned with information on the ball.
“As we know, Mako Vunipola today, he might of 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 are in transition.
Squad update | 35 players have been called into camp to prepare for this Saturday’s match against Wales.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 23, 2020
“So, we are starting to get some measurement on that. We are like, what’s underneath kindergarten? We are in the nursery school now, whereas Liverpool are doing their PhD at Oxford University.
“We’ve got a fair way to go, mate,” Jones explained.
England take on Wales next in the Autumn Nations Cup and will secure a place in the tournament’s final if they are successful against their old rivals.