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In the slog of a Rugby World Cup, breaks along the way are usually very welcome. In what is a long and punishing two-month campaign, players tend make the most of any time off to let body and mind heal.
But for England, this World Cup feels very different. After two relatively low-key matches in four days against Tonga and the USA, they have subsequently had nine-day and 14-day breaks between matches – two games in the space of 23 days. It is unheard of at this stage of the tournament.
The problem this causes is that while the squad will head into the knockout stage as fresh as they possibly can be, they risk not being in the right frame of mind to hit the ground running. Mentally, they could be severely undercooked to face Australia this Saturday.
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“The lads got up to different things,” said assistant coach Neal Hatley on Monday, as England departed their makeshift training camp in Miyazaki following their emergency Typhoon Hagibis-avoidance plans. “Some lads went to the beach, spent a few hours there, some played golf and a few went to the shopping mall.
“Quite a few lads have used these couple of days as really good recovery days to have a reset and get some good sleep in and be ready to go again this week.”
This sounds all rather lovely, were it the itinerary for a fan in Japan and not a 31-man squad that already has questions lingering over its mental resilience, in particular in the biggest matches that now lie ahead.
And this is where the impact of Typhoon Hagibis on rugby matters alone are much bigger than first thought. Eddie Jones was initially delighted to see their game against France called off, suggesting the “typhoon Gods” were smiling down on his team. But below the surface, it h
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