England told to up fitness levels

Date published: August 27 2014

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England have been told they will have to improve their fitness if they are to win the World Cup next year according to Tom Wood.

England have been told they will have to improve their fitness if they are to win the World Cup next year according to Tom Wood.

Stuart Lancaster's side showed some promising signs on their June tour to New Zealand but were still whitewashed in the three-Test series, and also fell just short during the Six Nations when they lost to Ireland on points difference.

Wood, speaking in The Telegraph, has revealed that the squad have been urged to focus on their fitness, if they want to see off the best in the world on home soil next year.

The Northampton flanker focused in particular on the difficulties of making the switch from club rugby to Tests, with the increased pace of the international game requiring a much higher level of fitness.

“International level is dramatically different to the club game,” Wood told The Telegraph.

“We have been shown data that illustrates that. There is about a 20-minute difference between international and club rugby, which is huge.

“The game against France at the start of last season's Six Nations championship had 46 minutes of ball-in-play time, the highest I have known.

“It is regularly up around that level against the All Blacks in particular. They are fast games with ball in play a lot.

“Even the Heineken Cup [now the Champions Cup], is not bridging the gap.

“That is a more static, power-based game, whereas international rugby jumps to a really fast tempo.

“Everyone wants to throw quick line-outs, nobody wants to wait around and have a talk [about strategy] that way we do in the Premiership, the way set-piece dominant teams do.

“Everybody wants to keep the ball moving. We have to recognise that and train for it.

“It is not so much about fitness as mental sharpness, about smelling blood and putting the throttle down.

“The All Blacks do that better than anyone else. When they have got you, they have really got you. It is a mental thing.

“It was not so much about fitness as mental fatigue at the end of a long season. It is harsh to call us unfit on the back of that.”

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