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Eddie Jones turns to Tour de France as he targets rankings top spot

Published 12/07/2016

Eddie Jones has guided England to second in the world rankings
Eddie Jones has guided England to second in the world rankings

Eddie Jones has been taking tips from the Tour de France as he bids to mastermind England's ascent to the top of world rugby.

The rise has already been rapid with Jones lifting England from eighth in the world rankings, following last year's World Cup debacle, to second thanks to a Six Nations grand slam and 3-0 series win in Australia.

Their route now takes in home Tests against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and the Wallabies with a real chance of completing 2016 with 13 wins from 13 matches, before a potential shot at top-ranked New Zealand some time next year.

Australian Jones has never been afraid to tap into other sports such as football, tennis and cricket - he hit a breezy 30 for a Rugby Football Union XI in Richmond on Monday - as he attempts to improve as a coach.

Jones has just spent time in France with team Orica-BikeExchange and believes rugby can learn a lot from the Tour.

"It is incredible what they do; there is almost a race behind the bike race, all the cars with the head coaches drive behind the bikes, giving them instructions," he said.

"The preparation is really good individually, before the ride with the information they are given, and the post-ride debriefs. The way they set it up is very professional. We've done some good things in rugby but we still have a long way to go.

"But our mindset is evolving. In Australia our hardest game was the third Test, having already won 2-0. Australia have nothing to lose and are giving it everything.

"There were signs of wear and tear so to put in that effort mentally, rather than physically, is what we are talking about on the Tour.

"Those guys go up that first slope for 45 minutes - it's tiring enough driving up it - and then they have to keep going for another four and a half hours.

"That's not physical toughness, it's mental toughness and our guys exhibited that in the third Test which was really pleasing."

Not that Jones thinks England are the finished article, by any means.

"We're back to zero now. Australia has gone," he added. "We didn't defend well. They scored too many easy tries against us. There's work to do.

"We want to be an aggressive side, we want to get off the line, we want to hit people, but we also have to be smart about it.

"We have good periods and not so good periods. The number one team in the world is good all the time."

Jones names his Elite Player Squad in October with Under-20 captain Harry Mallinder expected to earn a call-up.

Fijian-born Wasps number eight Nathan Hughes is now eligible and set to be included.

"He's a guy who has something you can't coach, his ball carrying," said Jones.

Jones would still like to pick Ospreys flanker Sam Underhill despite RFU rules stating he cannot select players based outside England.

"I don't think that position has changed and we still need to investigate it more," he said. "We'll wait and see."

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