European Rugby Champions Cup

England coach Eddie Jones slammed for training injury madness that will see Sam Jones and Anthony Watson miss autumn tests

A judo session designed to improve tackling has left English Premiership teams angry ahead of the opening round of the European Rugby Champions Cup

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 8:26pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 October, 2016, 2:21am

Eddie Jones found himself facing major criticism for the first time as England coach after a controversial training session saw Wasps flanker 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 English rugby union during the early years of the professional era.

That Jones’ 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.

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 (HK$2.16 billion) deal recently agreed between the domestic league and England’s governing Rugby Football Union (RFU) which covers issues such as player release.

However, officials said they were taken aback by the intensity of Jones’ training camp.

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“In the interests of player welfare, Premiership Rugby believes that England should not be doing full training sessions straight after a Premiership weekend,” a league statement said.

“This format was not anticipated and we would not expect full training sessions to occur during the two remaining two-day England camps planned this season.”

However, an RFU spokeswoman said: “As we approach the autumn series, game training has to take place. This has always been part of the plan and is fully in line with the agreement.”

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.

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“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.

“England need time with their players – I understand that – but we would prefer it to be at a different time.

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.