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England’s pursuit of Rugby World Cup glory to be aided by learning Japanese

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick and scrum mastermind Neal Hatley are among those members of the back room team who started learning the language last week

Duncan Bech 2018/09/09

Eddie Jones is making his staff take Japanese lessons to assist England‘s pursuit of Rugby World Cup glory next year.

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick and scrum mastermind Neal Hatley are among those members of the back room team who started learning the language last week ahead of Japan 2019.

England’s World Cup campaign opens against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22 and Jones believes the tactic will have a knock-on effect for the playing squad.

“All the staff – everyone – had Japanese lessons last Tuesday. We have got another one in a couple of weeks,” Jones said.

“Steve Borthwick is quite good. He’s a bright guy and he coached Japan with me for a couple of years.

“The World Cup is about enjoying the tournament and the more you enjoy the tournament the more you can create a positive atmosphere – which is the staff’s responsibility – then the more chance you have of being successful.

“The players are going to be stressed, they are going to find heat stress, they are going to find cultural stress.

“It’s our job as a staff to create a situation where we minimise that stress as much as possible, so all the preparation we are doing now is about trying to find ways we can minimise the stress for the players.”

Jones jokes that he has been banned from using the language by his Japanese wife Hiroko.

“She doesn’t let me speak to my dog in Japanese because she says I speak such bad Japanese. Mine is very rough,” Jones said.

“I can speak and understand it well enough. I did all the training in Japanese and probably 60 per cent of the team meetings, but very rough. A bit like my English.”

It has been confirmed by Premiership Ruby chief executive Mark McCafferty that England’s 2020 summer tour – the first to take place under the new global season structure – will comprise of two Tests in Japan.

The new rugby calendar is expected to be unveiled later this month and one of the features is a reduction in Tests.

“We do think there are too many international games, we would do anyway but I think part of trying to have these discussions globally around the structure was to strike that right balance,” McCafferty said.

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