England team up with McLaren
August 2, 2011
Good news England players - Martin Johnson has a new method of communicating following the link-up with McLaren © Getty Images
England have bolstered their World Cup preparations by enlisting the help of F1 superpower McLaren.
The team behind world champion drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are lending their technical expertise to ensure England head to New Zealand in the best shape ever. The England management are using McLaren's data analysts to study the players' GPS readings, from which they are tailoring the training sessions to get the best from each individual and to replicate Test match intensity as closely as possible.
When England won the World Cup in 2003, Clive Woodward's philosophy was that his team would do 100 things one percent better than anyone else. That was where the idea of the England players wearing a skin-tight kit first came from.
England's link-up with McLaren over the past two months - managed by the RFU's data analyst partners PGIR Ltd - is similarly designed to seek out a vital edge for Martin Johnson's squad leading into the World Cup.
"If you think back to 2003, the greatest thing that Clive Woodward did was ensuring we were ahead of other people," explained England centre Mike Tindall. "Nowadays it's very hard. Everyone has caught up and is at the same level so you really are looking for that half a per cent.
"The physical and conditioning guys are working with McLaren and trying everything they can to get that little bit more data and feedback. If we can continue to do that hopefully we will steal those half per cents.
"We're making sure we hit the ground running and a lot of the training has been more rugby based. In 2003 it was just hit the line - run, run, run. It has been a lot different. They are looking at all the data from the GPS and heart rate monitors, trying to predict when people are in a zone to get injuries.
"They also see when people are working to an optimum level and making sure they don't go over the edge of that."
Johnson's coaching team borrowed the McLaren radios for last Thursday's trial match to see if they were better than their equipment.
"We are trying to feed off each other, learn off each other. They are looking at how we analyse our GPS and they are showing us how they analyse their stuff," added England's defence coach Mike Ford.
PGIR Ltd, run by former England and Bath flanker John Hall, linked up with the RFU in 2008 after agreeing a four-year deal. England's rugby operations director Rob Andrew said at the time: "PGIR have broadened the concept of data and analysis management and are leaders in their field."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton