Eddie Jones and his England coaching staff are using a tactic utilised by the U.S. military in the Cold War to help prepare the side for the upcoming Six Nations.
Using a strategy known as red teaming, the England coaching team has met every week in the build-up to the competition to analyse players from the opposition’s point of view, in a bid to avoid being outwitted this time around after Italy’s no-ruck tactics bamboozled Jones and his players last year.
“Twice a week we have meetings on what-if scenarios,” defence coach Paul Gustard admitted at the squad’s week-long training camp on the Algarve. “As coaches we brainstorm some ideas and thoughts where we think the opposition can attack us.
“We’re militarily red-teaming our own side to see what weaknesses we have shown and where we think we can improve.
“Then we put that to the players and they come up with some ideas and we talk through some different scenarios.
“The scenario that panned out against Italy last year, we had spoken about. We had practised, but not to the extend they ended up doing it.
“As Eddie said after the game, we dealt with it pretty well. There was some referee interpretation within that which was caused confusion because he was inaccurate with how he was interpreting the law himself.
“We dealt with it, we got the victory that we wanted and we got the bonus-point win.”
England kick off their Six Nations campaign in Rome against Italy on Feb. 4, aiming to become the first team to claim three consecutive outright titles in the tournament’s history, and Gustard believes England need to be on the front foot if they are to create history.
“We want a hunting mentality in this Six Nations. We want to go after teams, stamp our authority on them and dominate them,” Gustard said.
“We want to hunt teams in every aspect. We want to go after them, put them under pressure and strive to be the best in the world. That starts with a successful performance against Italy.
“We’re not there to be the Six Nations current holders, we’re going out there to win it. That’s the kind of mindset the players have adopted and that’s what we’re looking for.
“We’ll say we want to win. We’ll say we’re going there to win. We’ll say we expect to win. We’ll say we want to win the Six Nations.”
Information from Press Association Sport was used in this report.