Eddie Jones’ tough training methods have been exposed by a new England report that shows players are twice as likely to be injured and out of the game for five times longer than in 2002.
The report also highlighted the need for tougher action on high tackles as rugby continues to battle an alarming rise in concussions.
The document, produced in conjunction with Premiership Rugby and the players’ association, showed the incidence of injuries during England on-pitch training was more than double the average over the analysis period.
The injury statistics stayed stable during the Stuart Lancaster era but went up as soon as Jones took over. In terms of number of days missed due to training field injuries, England under Jones last season were six times worse than at any time under Lancaster.
The mean length of absence was 579 days per 1000 hours, compared to the overall mean of 96 days per 1000 hours.
The average number of days that it now takes to recover from an injury on the professional game is 37, compared with 29 two years ago and an average of 20 for recorded figures the previous decade.
Simon Kemp, the RFU medical services director, felt referees needed to be dishing out more red and yellow cards for high tackles.
“You are three times more likely to see a card for a deliberate knock-on than you are for a high tackle, currently, around the world,” he said.
“We [the RFU] and World Rugby, at the moment, don’t believe that the sanction for yellow and red cards, alone, occurs frequently enough to be likely to change player behaviour. If the high tackle is a stick, probably at the moment, the stick isn’t used enough to change behaviour.
“One would expect any innovative look at law design to focus on the tackle and the ruck. We need to progress and accelerate that work.”