England coach Eddie Jones has opened up on his plans for 2017 and what needs to change in Japanese rugby for it to be truly successful as a rugby nation.
In an interview with Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, Jones spoke about what his aims are for the coming year:
“Well, 2017 is interesting here because you’ve got the Lions tour. We’re going to have possibly our top 15 players away for most of the year. For me, I’m looking at it as a great chance to develop the depth of the squad. Not so much the top players but develop the next 15 players. And then we all come together in 2018 and put it all together.”
He also revealed some of the work that goes on behind the scenes in terms of data analysis to make the England as successful as possible:
“For the 45 players we have in the EPS (Elite Player Squad), we have an information system that collects all the data for them. We get their game clips straightaway within 12 to 18 hours. All of that – medical, GPS, rugby data, everything, we have on our system. We can look at the progress of each player and see what they’re doing. In Japan, we had one person in that area, one person–no support, just one person- and he did an unbelievable job but it’s not enough.”
Before Jones took over as England head coach back in January 2016, he led Japan to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and to its most famous game ever: the victory over the Springboks in their pool. The Australian is keen to see Japan build on their previous achievements:
“They’ve got a lot of work to do, quite clearly. There are a number of players that have retired and a number of players that have lost interest in playing for the national team and they’ve got to bring young guys through and those young guys are a long way away from international standard. We saw that when they played Argentina. There’s a big gap between Japan and a tier one country.
“The good thing is that they’ve got good quality games now. They play tier one countries all the time. All these younger guys that are playing now, the six or seven new caps, it’s essential that they play Super Rugby next year. They must make sure they play Super Rugby so they gain the experience of playing against the best players in the world. That is really important.”
Jones is also keen to point out some of the issues with the new Japanese Super Rugby franchise the Sunwolves after a disappointing inaugural season:
“The problem was that there weren’t enough young players. So, they didn’t use it to develop young national team players. What they need to do is look at the national team now, identify the top seven young players that have got 10 caps or less and make sure they’re playing 80 percent of the Super Rugby games. Don’t worry about the results. Develop those young players. And if they have money, then I’d supplement that with good players to make the team strong. Because if you’re a young guy and you’re playing in a strong team, it’s so much better, because it allows you just to do your own skill. So, guys like Edward Quirk and the American flanker Andrew Durutalo, they are good solid players. You need some of those good solid players to play with the young guys.”
Finally, Jones spoke of the need to continually improve Japanese rugby in order to make it a popular sport in the country:
“Every time you go to Japan, the first time you go to a 7-Eleven (convenience store), there are always new drinks, isn’t there? And you have a drink that becomes popular for six months and if you come back six months later, it’s not there. Japan loves booms and unfortunately rugby’s been like that.
“To make it sustainable you have to be like Toyota. So, if Toyota tried to sell the Corolla they first made 50 years ago and no one would buy it, would they? You’ve got to keep improving, keep working ways of how you can get better and Japan rugby hasn’t done that.”
You can read the full interview here.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena