Football and rugby put their rivalry to one side on Thursday when England head coach Eddie Jones visited Manchester United ’s AON training ground on an educational expedition.
Jones, 61, is a keen football fan and has visited other Premier League clubs in the past, while the Red Devils journeyed to England’s Pennyhill Park headquarters earlier in pre-season.
United recently got their season off to a bright start after battering Leeds 5-1 at home, but they were disappointed to draw 1-1 with Southampton in their first away trip of the campaign.
Many have praised officials for allowing a more physical spectacle so far this term, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer complained some challenges in the draw with Southampton were rugby-esque.
“It’s a foul, he (Jack Stephens) goes straight through Bruno (Fernandes), with his arm and his hip across him. We can’t go from one extreme of volleyball or basketball last season to rugby now,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“I like the more lenient way, it’s more men’s football, but, still, that’s a foul.”
The more full-blooded version of the game witnessed this season may be a welcome sight for Jones, who arrived at the AON complex early in his effort to learn ahead of the Autumn Nations Series.
The Daily Mail reported it was there he met up with analysis operations manager Andrew Meredith, an Australian compatriot who joined United from German club St. Pauli in September 2019.
Jones has also spent time watching England’s national team and shares a relationship with football counterpart Gareth Southgate.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup finalist spoke about his interest in football and alternative training methods when United made the trip to Pennyhill Park in mid-July.
“I'm always interested in how the training is organised, and what is the objective of the training, and then what are the coaches doing to make sure that objective is met,” Jones said at the time.
“So it's more about the movement and the objective of the session.
“I think we're always learning. I think we learn more off you guys. But they're both invasion sports; they're both about combinations. At any time on the field there are four or five players that are crucial to that piece of play, and the way they interact and then the ability of the rest of the team to anticipate what's going to happen is just so important.”
United’s players were preparing for Sunday’s Premier League fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers, after which domestic football will be put on hold for the international break.
Jones will look to make use of any tips acquired when England reconvene for their own international series this autumn, beginning with a Twickenham clash against Tonga on November 6.
The Red Rose will then face Australia and South Africa, and Jones will be desperate for improvements after stumbling to fifth in this year’s Six Nations tournament.
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