Jones in standoff with Premiership clubs

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 10:53
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: England coach Eddie Jones is at odds with the Premiership clubs over the intensity of a training camp this week.

Thirty-seven of England's 45-man elite player squad met up in Brighton this past Sunday, after representing their clubs at weekend.

Jones was heavily criticised after the controversial training camp saw Wasps flank Sam Jones break his leg and Bath wing Anthony Watson fracture his jaw.

Both players are now set to miss all of England's end of year internationals against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia at Twickenham beginning in November - with the injuries sparking the kind of 'club v country' row that plagued England during the early years of the professional era.

That Jones's injury took place while the squad were doing judo in a bid to improve their tackling has only heightened the anger of many within the club game.

As well as the injuries to Jones and Watson, several players have been unable to train ahead of the opening round of European club matches - including England lock George Kruis, who plays for English and European champions Saracens.

Premiership Rugby also waded in and said England should not have used the camp for full training sessions.

"In the interests of player welfare, Premiership Rugby believes that England should not be doing full training session straight after a Premiership weekend," a spokesman for Premiership Rugby told rugby365.

"This format was not anticipated and we would not expect full training sessions to occur during the two other two-day England camps planned this season,"

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall labelled the timing of the England camp in the south coast town of Brighton as "madness" and "flabbergasting".

McCall added Premiership Rugby, the umbrella body for England's leading 12 teams, needed to be "careful chasing all this money at the expense of the clubs" - a reference to the £225-million (US$279-million, €251-million) deal recently agreed between the domestic league and England's governing Rugby Football Union - which covers issues such as player release.

"As we approach the year-end series, game training has to take place. This has always been part of the plan and is fully in line with the agreement," an RFU spokeswoman said.

But McCall countered by saying: "From our club's point of view we thought that Premiership Rugby could have fought harder as to where these camps are situated in the calendar.

"To have the camp 10 days before our first Champions Cup game was flabbergasting.

"I understand England's needs, but it seems madness. Everyone goes on about player welfare yet our international players have had a tough Monday and Tuesday and we are playing on Sunday."

He added: "England need time with their players - I understand that - but we would prefer it to be at a different time.

"It seems madness that we are playing on a Sunday and everyone goes on about player welfare when our international players have had a tough Monday and Tuesday."

England have won all nine Tests they've played under Australian coach Jones, appointed after the team's first-round exit at last year's World Cup.

That sequence includes a Six Nations Grand Slam and a 3-0 series win in Australia.

* Additional reeporting by AFP