EletiofeEngland forced to drop key Portugal training trip after...

England forced to drop key Portugal training trip after RFU cuts

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  • First time in four years England will not be making the trip
  • Eddie Jones places great importance on training camp

England players Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Harry Williams work out on wattbikes during a training camp in Albufeira, Portugal, in January






England players Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Harry Williams work out on wattbikes during a training camp in Albufeira, Portugal, in January.
Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Eddie Jones will be denied the chance to put his players through their paces at England’s warm weather training base in Portugal before the autumn campaign, further disrupting his side’s pursuit of the Six Nations title.

Jones places great importance in taking his players to the Algarve before autumn and Six Nations campaigns, having done so since 2016. The Rugby Football Union confirmed last month that Jones’s budget for the elite programme is not immune to cuts however, and it is understood that for the first time in four years England will not be making the trip.

While there is also the obvious travel risk involved and more logistical challenges given that Jones has less time with his players than usual, Portugal is currently on the UK’s safe travel list. Jones has already been informed that 12% of his staff will be cut as the RFU braces itself for losses of up £107m on top of the £15m hit already taken due to the pandemic.

While the RFU has confirmed that England will stay at home to finalise preparations for matches against the Barbarians, Italy and the eight-team tournament involving the Six Nations, Fiji and either Japan or Georgia, it remains to be seen where they do so.

Ordinarily, England base themselves at the lavish Pennyhill Park in Bagshot but with the RFU confirming the squad will be set up in a strict bubble, block-booking that hotel, where rooms go for in excess of £500-a-night, would be expensive. They could relocate to the Lensbury in Teddington, where their autumn opponents are traditionally put up, but in that case England would be denied access to their state-of-the-art indoor training facility.

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Already Jones must deal with the absence of the Premiership finalists for England’s first match – against the Barbarians, slated for 25 October – and while he could still call on them for the Six Nations finale against Italy in Rome six days later it would be an uncharacteristic move given he much prefers to select players who have been available from the start of camps.

Meanwhile, Sale have recalled the England duo Manu Tuilagi and Tom Curry as well as the Springbok scrum-half Faf de Klerk for the visit of Bristol on Saturday. Second-placed Bristol, one place and three points above the Sharks, make 13 changes from the side narrowly beaten by leaders Exeter on Tuesday.

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