Sleepless night helps Jones prepare for Wales

Feb 6, 2017

A sleepless night of introspection helped Eddie Jones work out why England started so slowly in their Six Nations opener and with the focus on Wales, he is hoping for a vibrant, hostile atmosphere when they travel to Cardiff on Saturday.

Fresh from their win over France, Jones said his primary focus was to work out why it took his team a while to find their rhythm against a fired-up Les Bleus. The quandary kept Jones awake on Saturday evening, but by Sunday morning, he had found the solution.

“I’ve found that after those sorts of nights you’re at your most lucid, your thinking is pretty clear on those nights, as funny as it seems,” Jones said. “You wake up in the morning and you’ve got the solutions there.

“The main mistake we made was that we added some things to our preparation which is important but sometimes when you add things it takes away focus.

“Those things we have added are going to be beneficial for us further down the track. We’re experiencing some short-term pain because we’re probably not doing enough of the important things — we’re doing things which are setting things in stone for the future.

“But this week we will be a bit more focused — we will pare things down.”

England celebrate victory in their last Six Nations visit to Cardiff Clive Mason/Getty Images

Like Jones’ self-assessment, England will be introspective this week focusing on what they can bring to Saturday’s clash against Wales, rather than worrying about what lies in wait in Cardiff.

Jones has spent the last 48 hours attempting to work out why England have got a poor record in Cardiff, having won just 21 of 62 trips there. He has spoken to a number of English rugby figures and James Haskell, who was part of the team that won there in the 2015 Six Nations, addressed the squad on Sunday on his experiences of the Principality Stadium.

It is typically a hostile atmosphere for travelling England teams; one Welsh fan head-butted the England team coach after Sir Clive Woodward’s team had won 44-15 there in 2001. On their last visit in 2015, the England team were kept waiting in the tunnel prior to the start of the game. Jones is hoping for a similar welcome when they journey to Cardiff on Saturday.

“I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t [like that],” Jones said. “You go to certain countries in the world and you expect that. You get that in Wales, you get it in South Africa particularly when you are on the veld. That’s part of the build-up to the game. To me that is one of the great challenges of Test rugby — to go to those places and play in those areas.

“If they start throwing daffodils during the warm-up, whatever, or make us stand out there for 15 minutes, or they close or open the roof, and we have an oscillating roof, what else could they do? We can cope with all that.”

Jones would not be drawn on whether he will ask for the roof of the Principality to open or closed. Wales are keen to have it closed, but Jones straight-batted questions over that on Monday.

“All we are worried about is playing well,” Jones said. “It can be open or closed. We don’t care. If we have a say in it, we’ll make a decision at the appropriate time.”

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