It’s the dream of every player from the moment they start playing their chosen sport to pull on their national jersey and represent their country. To get the call to join a national training squad is exhilarating and exciting, although it can cause difficulties for the club left behind.
Several Premiership coaches have been publicly critical of the current intensity of the England training camp following some high-profile injuries to key players. Bath’s Anthony Watson broke his jaw training with the national squad recently, and Wasps’ Sam Jones will be out for even longer with a broken leg and damaged ankle.
There has been no need to buy rugby ball equipment for these players as the focus has been on learning judo, which many believe is the reason for the number of lengthy injuries of late.
Those in favour of the unusual training point out that with a Test against the Springboks coming up, the players must be used to the big hits that some of the southern hemisphere teams put in time after time. The sustainability is key, although that will likely result in some heavy casualties.
Proponents of the high-intensity tactics claim that it’s the only way to get ready for the bigger matches and that inevitably will cause some injury, although injuries are not uncommon at any training camp.
The element of Eddie Jones’s camp raising eyebrows is that the players are learning judo as part of their “basic skills training”, not least from the Premiership coaches. A rift is developing with resistance from the club sides.
In fact, judo is not a new addition to the a rugby training regime, and training with an external group can help players from different clubs come together and bond as a functioning unit.
A Step Up
Rugby is a contact sport, and injuries are always a risk. Damage can be minimised by warming up and cooling down properly and through maintaining a healthy squad.
There is a step up from club level to playing for your national side, so training should reflect that. Trends in exercise these days suggest that shorter periods of high-intensity training are often more effective than several hours of exercise at 70 per cent intensity.
To beat the best teams in the world, the England rugby team will need to be ready both physically and mentally, and persistent injuries will hinder that.