Since taking over from Stuart Lancaster as England head coach, Eddie Jones has transformed the English rugby team into one of the best sides in world rugby. England won the 2016 Six Nations in convincing fashion, notching a first Grand Slam since 2003 and earning victories in Italy, Scotland and France. Now they are having a stormer in Australia with results to show he is the real deal. Jones has helped to mould England’s side and his impact has been clear for all to see – especially as many of the same players were involved during Lancaster’s tenure.
If nothing else, Jones has reinstalled belief and confidence. England thrive on their ability to play exciting, attacking rugby and Jones has allowed his flair players to shine on the big stage. Instead of debating whether to start either Owen Farrell or George Ford, he has switched the former to centre and used both. This kind of management technique is why England, who are priced at 6/5 at the time of writing to win the 2017 Six Nations with 32Red.com, are now widely regarded as the best team in the northern hemisphere.
England are much-improved and their quality shone through in the recent victories in the two Test matches of their Australian tour. In recent years, England have failed to inspire confidence against the world’s top sides but Jones’ impact and influence has taken control and helped to transform the national side into a truly dominant force.
And if Jones has one main strength, it’s building and rebuilding. The Australian is well renowned for transforming sides; whether that’s at club level or for the national side. Young union coaches could follow his example. Jones didn’t completely destroy Lancaster’s work, he simply looked at the squad, tweaked it slightly and made it ten times better. Young, up-and-coming coaches could learn a lot from Jones’ ability to assess situations, especially at the beginning of the season when cutting and trimming rosters.
Many youth coaches could follow and adapt tactics and techniques from Jones to ensure they get the most out of their players – both on and off the field. For example, Jones named Dylan Hartley as his captain after taking over at the helm; a decision that saw mixed reviews across the nation. Hartley had one of the worst disciplinary records in the sport and while most agreed that Chris Robshaw needed to be demoted, they weren’t overly convinced on Hartley’s ability to lead the side.
However, Hartley has relished the opportunity and has really stepped up to the plate. At youth level, it may be wise for coaches to offer a number of players the chance to prove their worth as captain – hence installing a sense of self-discipline and enhancing leadership qualities across the squad. While most won’t develop and mature as quickly as Dylan Hartley, it will give these youngsters the opportunity to showcase their talent and maintain confidence throughout the season.
Furthermore, young coaches could watch Jones’ mannerisms during press conferences and his ability to play mental games both before and after important fixtures. While press conferences don’t apply to youth coaches, mental games and ‘getting one over’ on your opponent is crucial and could help your side snatch victory before the match has even started. Whether it’s simply making a memorable remark in the build-up to the game or something stronger, young stars should follow Jones’ firm yet fair approach.
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For example, England headed into their second clash with Australia as slight underdogs despite winning the opening Test match. Jones’ men were priced at 19/20 with 32Red and 188Bet and the England boss has already laid down a marker ahead of the clash. Jones has claimed England have been treated disrespectfully since landing Down Under and has urged his men to raise their game ahead of the next clash. Who knows, this could play on the mind of the Wallabies and affect their performance.
Ultimately, youth coaches have learnt a few things from Jones. One; trust and believe in your players completely. If Jones didn’t do that, Hartley couldn’t have transformed into a magnificent leader. And to use various techniques and tactics to get under the skin of your opponents, while this could be construed as ‘below the belt’, it is just part of the sport and gamesmanship is quickly becoming key to determining results. With a bit of luck, you too could transform your side into a prevailing force at youth level.