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Eddie Jones accused by Premiership Rugby of placing player welfare at risk

Published 06/10/2016

England and Bath wing Anthony Watson has broken his jaw
England and Bath wing Anthony Watson has broken his jaw

Eddie Jones has been accused by Premiership Rugby of placing player welfare at risk after staging a full-bore training camp that has resulted in his England regime being criticised for the first time.

An intense session in Brighton on Tuesday has seen Anthony Watson added to a growing list of players who will miss the entire autumn series after the Bath wing broke his jaw during a collision.

On the same day it emerged that Wasps flanker Sam Jones faced months out after fracturing his right leg during a judo session held 24 hours earlier, while Mike Brown and Joe Marler of Harlequins and Saracens' George Kruis have been unable to train since.

Kruis' director of rugby Mark McCall views the timing of the three-day camp on the south coast as "flabbergasting" and "madness" due to its proximity to the opening round of European rugby, in which the double winners face Toulon on Saturday week.

The main object of McCall's anger is Premiership Rugby, who he suggests needs to be "careful chasing all this money at the expense of the clubs" in reference to the £225million deal recently agreed between Twickenham and the domestic league that enshrined the unsatisfactory date for the camp.

Premiership Rugby, however, insists the intensity of the training that was signposted by head coach Jones on Friday as a "test of resolve" designed to make players feel "uncomfortable" is not in keeping with their interpretation of the agreement.

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

"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."

The Rugby Football Union insists the content of the practise sessions was in keeping with the terms of the arrangement.

"The professional game argeement enables England players to attend training camps, which obviously involve rugby training," 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 ."

Jones' methods are being scrutinised following his decision to put his 37-man squad through a gruelling session the day after they had practised judo while overseen by British coaches JP Bell and Kate Howie.

Australian Jones is a notoriously demanding taskmaster and McCall hinted at his displeasure over the workload given to Kruis, who has been troubled by a back problem that the second row is still managing.

"George didn't train on Thursday because he's coming back from injury and we need to be sensible with him. It would have been wrong for him to train on Thursday," McCall said.

"We'd have preferred him to do one day with England and two days with us, but that didn't happen."

There was no ambiguity over McCall's view of the timing of England's stay in Brighton, however, and who he held responsible for signing it off as he prepares Saracens for Sunday's title showdown with Wasps.

"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," said McCall, who added that he has no objective in principle

"To have the camp 10 days before our first Champions Cup game was flabbergasting.

"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.

"We would like to have been involved in the discussion. Not to be consulted about it at all seems to be strange

"We've got to fight our corner in these situations. I think the directors of rugby at least should be asked. We weren't part of the discussion at all.

"When I raised it and objected to it I think there was surprise that it should cause any problem.

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

"It seems madness that we are playing on a Sunday and everyone goes on about player welfare when our international players have had a tough Monday and Tuesday."

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