Articles From the Team
Eddie Jones – World Rugby Coach of the Year
Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog about the lessons that those attempting to build elite teams could learn from the demise of Stuart Lancaster as England Rugby coach – be they rugby fans or not. On the day that Eddie Jones is recognised as World Rugby Coach of the Year, boasting 22 wins in 23 matches or a win percentage of 96% it seems like the perfect time to revisit the topic.
What lessons can we call learn from Eddie Jones? What has implemented to improve the England team so dramatically and drastically? A 96% winning record is after all a world away from his immediate predecessors Stuart Lancaster (61%), Martin Johnson (53%), Brian Ashton (52%) and Andy Robinson (41%). Expectation of high performance: Since taking on the role of England coach Eddie Jones has shown no qualms about dropping “star players” and not picking those who are not on form. He has also shown no qualms about substituting under performing players 15 or 20 minutes into a game. In order to be part of the set up, you have to perform at your very best at all times.
Changing the definition of high performance: In a spikey press conference just before the game against Samoa, Jones criticised the press’ tendency to focuses on the flashy and obvious qualities of some players. Many members of the media have questioned the inclusion of players such as Dylan Hartley, Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw and George Ford in the side and yet these (along with Owen Farrell) are the very players who form the leadership core of the team. As such, Jones’ definition of high performance for these individuals doesn’t just focus on the “flashy” but also incorporates the other elements they bring to the team and the way other players react to them.
There is always a way back: Early in the year two players, Denny Solomona and Manu Tuilangi, were sent home from a training camp for getting drunk – in breach of agreed team behaviours! For Tuilangi this is the latest in a long of disciplinary issues for Solomona a first. Jones has made it clear to both players that with good form and good disciplinary records in the future they could be invited back into the squad. Solomona has indeed already been invited back.
Focus on what you are good at: Jones was very clear when he began his tenure as England coach that he believed that the great England teams of the past had been based on a big intimidating pack of forwards who were technical superb alongside committed & aggressive defence. Believing those are the essential elements of England Rugby’s DNA that is, therefore, where he started when rebuilding the team.
Transparency and honesty: Even in press conference both players and coach are now disturbingly transparent and honest about what has gone well and what has not gone well. Given the level of transparency in public, one can only imagine the levels of accountability in private.
Constantly seeking to improve: Accountability is all very well and good, but it is only useful if people actively seek to improve. The feeling that comes from the camp, from the coaches, the senior players and junior players is of a collective that has a real desire to improve both as a group and as individuals.
A conveyor belt of talent: Given England’s recent (since 2011) continuous levels of success in the annual U20 World Cup, Eddie Jones arguably has access to the most continuous convey belt of talent that any England manager has ever had. The hard work done by club academies and junior level national coaches, the willingness of club coaches to give young players an opportunity and the willingness of the national coach himself to do the same are all helping to keep the conveyor belt going and develop a depth of talent that is unrivalled anywhere in the world, except perhaps New Zealand.
Jones’ experience and management ability are clearly exceptional and he has created an attractive environment that people want to be part of, built around core principals of behaviour and play. However, all the coaching ability in the world wouldn’t help if the players coming through weren’t good enough. For most of those reading this who are seeking to develop elite teams, that conveyor belt of talent comes through recruitment and this is where partnering with the right recruitment team comes from.
So once you have created the environment and put all the behaviours in place – don’t forget to get in touch with BCL Legal to make sure you have the right talent coming into the team.