Lucky break for Jones, or is it?

Coach claims England's success rate in matches after a two-week turnaround is "95 per cent", but the real figure is much lower.

TOKYO, 12 Oct - Eddie Jones loves to reference cricket when talking about the challenges facing his England team.

This week he announced that his players are "batting at around 95 per cent" whenever they are given a two-week break between internationals, which will be the case when they face either Wales or Australia in the quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Oita Saturday, 19 October.

England are training in Miyazaki to avoid Typhoon Hagibis, which is battering Yokohama where their final Pool C match with France was due to have been played this weekend. Its cancellation has given Jones, pictured above, and his squad a two-week break between their 39-10 win over Argentina and the quarter-final.

As he headed for the airport to return to his favourite training base in the south of Japan, Jones said: "We have a fairly exceptional record in two-week preparations: we are batting at around 95 per cent and so we have to find five per cent from somewhere."

Jones’s cricket analogy does not stand up to scrutiny, though, as England’s record when dealing with two-week breaks between internationals under their Australian coach is eight wins out of 11 – a 73 per cent success rate.

This includes the period between England’s final Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Italy in Newcastle and their opening Pool C defeat of Tonga in Sapporo.

It means that Jones’s overall win rate of 79 per cent in charge of England is better than his record when his team have a two-week break.

Under Jones, who took charge of the national squad after RWC 2015 when England failed to get out of their pool, three of England's past four defeats in the Six Nations have come after a two-week break.

They were beaten 21-13 by Wales this year, lost 22-16 to France in 2018, and 25-13 to Scotland, also in 2018. 

Michael Cheika, the coach of Australia, has been quick to note the comments by Jones and addressed the subject after his team's bruising 27-8 win over Georgia on Friday night.

Cheika said: "Well, I saw he was saying that that (cancellation) would be an advantage and the 'typhoon gods' were smiling on him. They've had the best preparation according to the coach, so they’d better go out there and win. We’ll see how we go."

Even defending champions New Zealand have had their setbacks when dealing with a two-week break under coach Steve Hansen, who has lost just four matches in the Rugby Championship since he assumed the top job in 2012.

Two of those games - a 27-19 defeat by Australia in 2015 and the headline-making 47-26 loss against the Wallabies this year - happened about two weeks after their previous matches.

As the All Blacks' final pool match against Italy has also been cancelled they, too, will have a two-week break before playing their quarter-final at the Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.

Next weekend's quarter-finals may give coaches pause for thought as to whether an extra week's rest is as beneficial as it first seems, or whether match fitness is more useful in the long run. 

RNS cj/ns/ajr