SCOTLAND’S World Cup 2015 group rivals Japan have been taking advice from an unlikely source as they continue their top form under Eddie Jones – from Champions League-winning coach Pep Guardiola.
Japan have been drawn in Pool B of next year’s World Cup in England along with Samoa, South Africa, Scotland and the United States.
And Jones believes Guardiola’s input can add a new dimension to the Cherry Blossoms’ game, saying he sought out the “best soccer coach” following last month’s defeats to Romania and Georgia as he aims to lead Japan to a first win at a rugby World Cup since their sole success over Zimbabwe in 1991.
“The main thing we learnt this year was that we have to be tactically more flexible. We need to react to situations on the field and make adjustments to the way we play,” the Australian said.
“The soccer approach is called tactical periodisation, in which everything is done in preparation for the game and in order to be tactically aware.”
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Jones said the two sports shared many similarities and that Guardiola, who won three La Liga title and two Champions League titles with Barcelona before leading Bayern to victory in the Bundesliga in his first season, had been a big help.
“I watched Bayern train and had a really good meeting with the head coach and I really think we can improve greatly with adjustments in the way we train. He is the best soccer coach in the world and you always want to learn from the best.
“Rugby and soccer are very similar, in that you always want to move the ball into space, and Bayern Munich and his previous team, Barcelona, played the most fantastic passing game you have ever seen. The principles are exactly the same.
“The very best soccer teams vary their depth and formation in order to make the most of the space.
“So when you get the chance to learn from the best it’s a fantastic opportunity.”
Jones has overseen some positive results during his three years in charge, including a home win over Italy in June, and helped his players get experience in tougher overseas competitions.
He said up to seven of his side could feature in the southern hemisphere Super Rugby competition next year, which would boost their fitness, maturity and mental toughness.
He also called for greater commitment from his squad and smarter coaching from his team.
“If we achieve those two things then I think we are well placed to achieve what we set out to do, which is to make the quarter-finals of the rugby World Cup.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS