It was on a freezing cold morning in 2014 that the now England rugby head coach Eddie Jones finally got to see Pep Guardiola in action.

Like everyone else in the world of sport, Jones had seen and heard plenty about Guardiola.

He had witnessed how the Spaniard had succeeded with Barcelona and, now that he was at Bayern Munich, Jones was keen to get a look behind the curtain.

It was that desire to see how the Catalan coach trains his team that led to Jones standing on the side of a freezing cold pitch in Munich three years ago.

The Australian was working with the Japan rugby team at the time, but he believed there were lessons he could learn from a day in the company of one of football’s greatest coaches.


Pep Guardiola changed how Eddie Jones coaches… by FootballWhispers

“I was so impressed by how Barcelona play,” says Jones, speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester.

“And with the Japan side we had small team and one of things we needed to be able to do is find or create space.

“So I thought I might as well go and see the best coach in the world whose team plays like that.

“So we went and managed through one of the sponsors to arrange a meeting with him.

“He was very giving of his time.”

Any football fan would love to have the access Jones got three years ago to watch Guardiola coach.

The Spaniard is rightfully revered as one of the greatest manager of all time, but in the modern world it is rare to get an insight into how he works.

Thankfully, Jones can provide us with a glimpse of what training with Guardiola is like for a footballer.

“We sat down and spoke about the principals of finding space and it really helped us a team,” says Jones.

“I have always been grateful about that.”

And are Guardiola’s training sessions as intense as him?

“Definitely,” Jones instantly replies.

“He is very intense on the field, very focused. He demands a lot of the players and you see that with the way they play.”

As he begins to lift the lid on what he learned during that session with Guardiola in 2014, it is clear to see the Spaniard has had a big impact on Jones.

Everyone has witnessed the Australian’s influence on the England rugby team, losing just once see took over in 2015.

But, Jones explains that after he met Guardiola he was embarrassed by the way he had been leading his teams all these years.

“It changed the way I coach,” he admits.

“I came out of that session embarrassed by how I’d been coaching.

“Because when I was a young coach I used to coach pretty hard and I probably got criticised for it.

“I went and watched Pep’s session. He has some of the best players in the world, it was minus five and it was freezing.

“They did quite a traditional warm-up and I thought maybe I am not going to learn anything today.

“They had 21 players and they played three teams of seven and they were working about getting into space, using their body position as to how to get into space.

“And Pep was out there running the session. Speaking in four or five different languages, telling the likes of [Arjen] Robben what to do.

“It was just really enlightening how hard they worked in that 20 minutes and how he was embedding his philosophy on that team.

“The players had bought into it. I remember them coming off, with sweat pouring off them.

“I had seen many football sides train but watching them it was like they were up here [he gestures with his hand towards the ceiling] and the rest of them were down there.

“It has definitely changed the way I coach since then.”

Jones is incredibly engaging company as he discusses football and not rugby for a change.

He admits to being a huge fan of the sport, although there are certain elements that still leave him bemused.

“I love it,” Jones says.

“But I can’t work out why in football they are always talking about formation.

“Because when I watch the game I don’t see the formations. I see them try to get space next to each other and keep some sort of shape.

“The teams that run hard forward, run hard back, have good awareness of the space, are good.

“Then if you’ve got a [Lionel] Messi you’ve got a great team. You can see the coaches who coach the teams that run hard and the teams that don’t. It is quite evident.”

Interestingly, it is not just Guardiola’s brain that Jones has picked from the footballing world.

When Alan Pardew was at Crystal Palace, Jones paid a visit to their training ground in south London.

The Australian has also welcomed Chelsea boss Antonio Conte to England’s base in Bagshot.

While recently, it was West Bromwich Albion’s Tony Pulis who opened the door to Jones. In the England coach’s eyes, there is plenty rugby can learn from football.

“I think there are differences, but there are similarities as well,” he says.

“I have just recently been to Tony Pulis at West Brom. The one thing that is exactly the same is the man management.

“You have got to manage players. You have got to manage their expectations. You have got to put them together in a team and get them to play together.

“I work the players a lot harder now – much harder. We have borrowed a lot from football.”

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