England coach Eddie Jones claims his side’s training session in Tokyo was being filmed from an apartment block ahead of the Rugby World Cup semifinals.
England faces tournament favorite New Zealand on Saturday having defeated Australia last weekend, but Jones dismissed fears the All Blacks might be gaining an unfair advantage by spying on his team.
“That’s part of the deal. That’s the fun of the World Cup,” said the Australian, who led the Wallabies to the 2003 final.
“There was definitely someone in the apartment block filming but it might have been a Japanese fan.”
Jones said he was aware from the start of the training session that his side was being filmed but added that “it doesn’t change anything.”
He also admitted that he used to film other team’s training sessions but hasn’t since 2001.
“You just don’t need to do it any more, you can see everything,” Jones told reporters. “You can watch everyone’s training on YouTube. There’s no value in doing that sort of thing, absolutely zero.
“Everyone knows what everyone does, there are no surprises in world rugby any more. That’s the great thing about the game — you just have to be good enough on the day.”
It’s not just in rugby that teams have been known to spy on coaching sessions to get an upper hand on their opposition.
Earlier this year, Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa was criticized for sending scouts to secretly watch teams train as his side bid to gain promotion to the English Premier League.
Phil Neville also questioned the etiquette of the US team management during the Women’s World Cup in July after representatives visited England’s hotel ahead of the semifinals.
‘Fans with a keyboard’
Jones rarely shies away from whipping up controversy ahead of crucial test matches, and Tuesday’s news conference was no exception.
He called the New Zealand media “just fans with a keyboard,” and also said that the All Blacks’ mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka will be the “busiest bloke in Tokyo” because of the pressure New Zealand players will be under to win a third consecutive World Cup.
Asked to comment on the large number of Japanese fans supporting the All Blacks, Jones quipped that he has even told his wife to “stop barracking for them.”
England hasn’t defeated New Zealand since 2012, but lost by a single point when the sides met at Twickenham last year.
All Blacks boss Steve Hansen was more reserved when asked about the mind games coaches play with each other ahead of crunch games.
“It’s a real thing, but sometimes you’re better not to bother going there and sometimes you are,” Hansen, who will step down after the World Cup, told reporters.
“Eddie will decide whether he wants to go there and I’ve already decided what I want to do. You’ll have to wait and see, I guess. There’s still a couple more days to go.”