Eddie Jones has warned his England players he will not tolerate any breach of Covid rules at a time of crisis for the nation.
Jones welcomed his first squad since lockdown and immediately made clear that he does not expect anyone to set foot outside the camp.
“You have to have agreement about life in the bubble,” he said. “We have to reduce the chances of communal infection which means that we don’t have any contact with the community.
“By default, that means we will be staying in our hotel.”
Jones laid down the law in a week in which three England footballers allegedly broke Covid rules – a month after Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home for having female guests in the team hotel.
And on the day Piers Francis, one of 28 players due to report for England’s mini camp, reported a positive test a week after playing against Covid-hit Sale.
“It's a fact of life at the moment,” said Jones. “That's what we have to deal with, we can't get too worried about it.
“The main thing for us is that we understand the responsibility that we have got.
“We are the England national rugby team. We have been given the opportunity to play rugby in quite difficult situations. I anticipate that every player coming in will be committed to that.”
England have moved to the Lensbury from their usual training headquarters in Bagshot as the hotel in Teddington is able to create a “bubble” for them away from hotel guests.
It is the venue from which three years ago Manu Tuilagi and Denny Solomona escaped for a late night drinking session which resulted in the pair being sent home.
Despite working with one of the team's sponsors to set up a state-of-the-art games room for the players, Jones is braced for protocols again being breached as “like every other young man around the world at the moment, they have discipline issues”.
He insists it is something he will expect his senior players to police.
Wales counterpart Wayne Pivac echoed Jones’ hard-line warning to his players after unveiling an autumn squad which includes uncapped Bristol duo Callum Sheedy and Ioan Lloyd.
“There's too much riding on this for us to be ill-disciplined,” he said. “We won't tolerate any individuals putting the team or the competition at risk.”
Pivac said that any of his players who fall foul of the rules the way the footballers had “will be released from the squad”.
He added: “We will be very, very diligent in terms of the way we operate in making sure we keep this thing at bay and are able to fulfil our fixtures.
“The players won’t have the freedoms they had. They won't be sharing rooms, there will be some restrictions in terms of their movements.
“We are mitigating risks where we can and making sure our interaction with the public is minimised. The players will have a lot less time away than they would ordinarily have. There's a huge responsibility on everyone.”
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