‘We need to keep looking at how to make it safer’: Eddie Jones says more needs to be done to look after rugby stars as England coach looks to NBA and NFL for alternative training methods

  • Rugby is under pressure to find solutions to the head injury crisis
  • The sport is facing a legal class action by almost 200 players with dementia
  • Eddie Jones shared information with NFL team coaches

England coach Eddie Jones adopted “pantomime training” from American sports in an attempt to improve player safety.

Rugby is under pressure to find solutions to its head injury crisis, with the sport facing a legal class action by almost 200 players with dementia.

Now England captain Courtney Lawes has been forced to pull out of a training camp in Jersey this week due to concussion.

Eddie Jones says more needs to be done to protect rugby players

Dylan Hartley, the former England captain, told The Mail on Sunday last week that administrators must find answers quickly, suggesting a reduction in contact training.

Jones shared the information with the coaches of the Green Bay Packers football team. The National Football League and NBA basketball have already seen a major shift toward alternative learning methods.

“We were looking at some things in America,” Jones said. “I’ve talked to the NFL and the NBA, where practice time is getting shorter. One of the things they do in the NBA is mime drills where they are not allowed to talk. We will try to do it. It’s eye contact, being able to understand each other’s body language.

“Each sport is modified based on the amount of physical activity you can do. In cricket, fast bowlers don’t hit the bowlers very often, do they? In every sport, there is more concern about well-being, so the amount of physical training you can do is reduced. ‘

Hartley called for mandatory brain scans for players. “I see Dylan from time to time and have a few informal conversations,” Jones said. “The players have to find their voice. As the game has become professional, rugby players may have moved away from it a bit.

To improve player safety, Jones took over in American sports

To improve player safety, Jones adopted “pantomime training” in American sports.

“World Rugby has been very diligent. Rugby, because of the nature of the sport, is a physical game [and] we must continue to look at how to make it safer; as we continue to take better care of the players.”

Hartley says he turned down an offer to join a class-action lawsuit against the sport. However, the 36-year-old former prostitute wants to see better care for retired players – prompting a response from Mark Darbon, chief executive of old club Hartley, Northampton.

Darbon called Hartley a “thoughtful guy” with “some interesting ideas.” He added: “We have recently launched a charity fund at the club which supports past players in times of need. We are actively fundraising to get into this bank, which is very exciting.

“As for the specific idea of ​​dealing with ex-players, I think it’s a really interesting idea. We recently wrote to all our ex-players highlighting some of the services available to them, such as brain health screenings in London, organized by the league and the RFU. It’s really powerful.

“Dylan’s message about whether there is anything we can do locally to support some of our former players who are recovering from injuries, I think is an interesting concept.

“I told him we run a pretty tight ship here, so we have to fit it in with everything else we do, but we’re definitely open to the idea.”