Mako Vunipola Rugby World Cup 2019: England ramping up pressure on All Blacks despite ‘spygate’ scandal, says John Mitchell

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Eddie Jones ignited a ‘spygate’ row at the Rugby World Cup yesterday as England accused the All Blacks of watching their semi-final opponents New Zealand of spying on training, with their own in-house Kiwi John Mitchell brushing off the All Blacks’ attempts to get under their skin by claiming the world champions are the ones under all the pressure.

Jones lit the blue touch paper on Tuesday by claiming an individual was seen watching England’s training session, just five days out from the semi-final against New Zealand in Yokohama. With former All Blacks head coach Mitchell his current assistant, Jones needs no second opinion on what the Kiwis will be up to this week, and he believes that even if they were able to watch England’s full training session, they will have learned very little from it.

“The game is pretty small, you know all the coaches,” said Mitchell, who coached the All Blacks from 2001 until their third-place finish at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. “I played with Ian Foster for 10 years, and I used to coach Scott McLeod [New Zealand assistant coaches], so I know all these guys really well. If that is what they want to do and that is the way they want to prepare, good luck to them. The game is highly unstructured, so I don’t see any advantage in it.

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“We just happened to be training where there are apartments above where our tiny two-metre tarpaulin was, so I am not sure about what the use of the tarpaulins are. The facilities have been excellent, but it is an area where people live and there are the odd red lights around. There was one up in the corner which was a bit suspicious.”

In his press conference, Jones had claimed that he had not used spying tactics at all since 2001, and even turned to Mitchell to claim he had spied on his own Wallabies team during that era, when Mitchell served under Sir Clive Woodward with England.

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