Having Injuries Buys Success: A Breakdown Of England Rugby’s Injuries

Ed Angeli

Playing rugby and getting injured is an all too familiar sight; such is the game’s familiarity with players spending more time in the physio room than on the pitch has caused a handful of people to call for a ban of tackling and scrums in schools.

With the likes of Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Billy Vunipola and Manu Tualagi all missing this autumn internationals through injury, it’s no surprise that the English side doesn’t have a fully fit squad to face Argentina at Twickenham this coming Saturday.

“We haven’t done the amount of team training we would like to do [becasue of injuries], but we will do other things. We have done a lot more off the field. 

We were looking at riches there [on the wings], and now we are a bit poor. But it’s going to give opportunities to Denny [Solomona], and Roko [Semesa Rokoduguni] and potentially one other player.”

— Eddie Jones, speaking to BBC Sport

Yet it would seem with injury comes success; where in past years England have had their highest number of injuries, they’ve also had the best results from World Cups.

Of course, the further you go in a tournament, the more games you will play, meaning there’s more opportunity for injury, but the difference from the 2003 and 2007 World Cup years – where England won one and reached a final of the other – show a greater intensity and levels of commitment with more injuries being accounted for around the year.

The shocking 2011 tournament under Martin Johnson highlights the levels of effort and willingness of the side to put their body on the line in New Zealand; the levels of intensity were clearly not there as England slumbered to defeat against France.

Additionally, where England were so poor under Johnson, it saw the English side have the lowest amount of average injuries per game from the years between 2008-2011; a time where England’s winning percentage was only 55.3%, compared to Eddie Jones’ currently at 94.7% and Sir Clive Woodward’s at 71.1%.

Adding to this, in the 2010 Six Nations, England finished in third place, managing to register just five points; that year during training the RFU recorded just eight injuries for the season suggesting players weren’t committing or having a high level of intensity in training sessions; the results when it came to playing competitively were telling.

This is not suggesting having a depleted squad guarantees success, but the patterns highlight where there is increased levels of injury, there is a greater dedication and therefore better results at major tournaments.

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