Team GB and Eddie Jones' England in talks about sharing know-how
England's rugby union team and Team GB are in talks about sharing know-how and training bases in their twin attempts to triumph in Tokyo.
Team GB chief executive Bill Sweeney invited England coach Eddie Jones to the British Olympic Association's London headquarters on Monday to discuss ways the two teams could help each other for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics.
Speaking to journalists, Sweeney explained he has known Jones, who is half Australian and half Japanese, for many years and it made perfect sense to explore any opportunities to help each other out in Japan.
"He's there in 2019, we're there in 2020," said Sweeney, of a man who just led England to an unbeaten record in 2016, having previously coached Japan for three years.
"There have to be some areas of common interest that we can talk about and that's good news."
Sweeney said Team GB was well advanced in their Tokyo 2020 plans, having already signed agreements with training venues but were open to sharing them with Jones, although England's needs are slightly different, given the nationwide nature of the Rugby World Cup.
Team GB's main holding camp will be Yokohama and Sweeney said pre-Games planning was already ahead compared to four years ago in regards to Rio, which is partly to do with the BOA's improved finances.
New chairman Hugh Robertson praised Sweeney and his team for fixing what he described as "the pickle" that the BOA had got itself into after London 2012, and said the organisation's commercial strength enabled it to look forward to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and 2020 Summer Olympics in the Japanese capital with real confidence of further success.
It was a point Sweeney picked up, saying that when he talks to his peers abroad Team GB is now considered a "dominant Olympic force" thanks to 20 years of targeted funding via UK Sport and the "on-the-ground execution" that the BOA delivers.
"Our primary purpose - our only purpose, really - is to make sure athletes can perform similar feats to what they did in Rio," said Sweeney.
"And being a privately-funded body we've got to generate our own commercial funds. But we're in great shape. We're in much better shape coming out of Rio than we were coming out of London.
"If you asked now what our vision is for Tokyo compared to Rio, we could give you a very detailed answer - we feel very much ahead of the curve in terms of the issues we need to deal with going into Tokyo.
"But we think that one of the challenges we will face coming into Tokyo is that we're looking at a city of 38 million people, with a very different culture, it can be a bit overwhelming at times.
"That's why we're thinking of bringing everybody through Yokohama. It's the best place to make that transition. Eddie may think similarly but he'll have a very strong point of view because he's half Japanese, anyway."