TOKYO, 23 Oct – Ben Youngs has revealed England are so determined to stay on the right side of the law they have introduced punishment sessions during training.
Head coach Eddie Jones has been drumming home the importance of maintaining discipline and has taken the message out on to the training pitch.
And it has clearly worked because England have an unblemished record at RWC 2019 so far, having played four matches without picking up a yellow or red card. Their penalty count is not bad either: 30 conceded in four games, which is the lowest of the four remaining teams.
By comparison their next opponents, New Zealand have had three yellow cards and conceded 31 penalties, also in four games.
"We've put a big emphasis on discipline because it's something previously we haven't always been terrific at," said scrum-half Youngs. "But in this tournament, we've been very, very good. We've been pleased with how we've been able to make sure we've stayed disciplined.
"If boys did things in training they were sent to the corner of the pitch to get a bit of a flogging and stuff.
"What were the punishments? A few down-ups, a few runs - it's normally the big boys that spend the time there. They go with the strength and conditioning coach.
“We want to make the team aware of the importance of discipline."
Youngs, who has won 93 caps, is playing in his third World Cup but it is the contribution of a first-timer which has impressed him most in Japan.
And he is predicting 21-year-old Tom Curry could become one of the best back-row forwards England has produced.
Curry, pictured above, was Player of the Match in the 40-16 win over Australia and will have a key role alongside fellow flanker Sam Underhill against the New Zealand double act of Ardie Savea and Sam Cane in the semi-final at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.
"Tom’s an unbelievably special player," added Youngs. "He works incredibly hard, nothing seems to faze him. He’s in this bubble, and he’s just loving every moment of it.
"Being an older member of the squad, you see these young guys come in and you want them to be successful. Tom’s been incredible like that and I’m sure he’ll continue to grow and grow as a player. I have no doubt he’ll go on to be one of the greatest back-rowers England have ever had.
"And Sam Underhill, though he looks a lot older, isn’t too old himself. Both those guys, and the energy they bring - I’m just pleased and proud of them."
Youngs will be hoping that deadly duo can help him make it a memorable family hat-trick against the All Blacks this weekend. He beat New Zealand alongside brother Tom in 2012, while father Nick played scrum-half when England defeated the All Blacks at Twickenham in 1983.