Innovative England pursuing glory
England's players could train at night and sleep on specially-constructed mattresses to maximise their chances of winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Those are just two of the innovations being looked into by the performance expert Matt Parker, who was the brains behind Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France triumph and Britain's Olympic cycling dominance. Parker joined the Rugby Football Union in January as Stuart Lancaster's right hand man and he is responsible for ensuring no stone is left unturned in England's pursuit of World Cup glory.
With a background in sports physiology, Parker has instigated changes to make England's gym work more rugby-specific and his performance team are formulating a range of new innovations, including ways to make better use of half-time.
"Every day you are relentlessly pursuing elite performance," Parker said. "New Zealand are number one in the world and we are after them."
England are expected to play all their World Cup matches at 8pm and so Parker and Lancaster will alter the training schedule to optimise their preparation, much like boxers do before a big fight.
"Those are the demands of the competition, that is what you have got to prepare for and don't leave anything to chance," Parker said. "If the kick-off is a 3pm or 5pm or 8pm then that is what we train for. I am confident any challenges the World Cup throw at us we will be able to take it on."
In his previous role as the head of marginal gains for British Cycling, Parker introduced state of the art mattresses for Team Sky and the Olympians.
"Sleep is where the majority of the adaptation to training takes place," he said. "You must look after the period of your life that gives a return on all the hard work you have done. When you travel on a (cycling) Tour you go from a different bed to a different bed every day and that alone can disrupt your sleep.
"A way of consistency was to take our beds with us so we designed a bespoke layered mattress for each rider that folds up into a bag. It is like sleeping in your own bed every night and it is one of the best beds you have ever had.
"When we reviewed what the athletes wanted in the Olympic village, the biggest thing for them was a good night's sleep and the way of overcoming the uncertainty was to make our own beds. As time goes on it may be something we develop further (for England). We will look at that World Cup period and make sure we have got consistency in terms of our preparation as we won't be based in the same place all the time."