Oval Talk

Why England have turned to flashing disco lights

Oval Talk

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Coaches will try just about anything to gain that extra 0.01% for their team. So therefore it should come as no surprise that something new and bizarre is being implemented.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is going through a particularly inspired spell when it comes to new innovations and incorporating different strategies in an attempt to grab an edge in the Six Nations.

First he had recorded messages from families played back to his players for motivation, then he made his troops walk through Twickenham's West Car Park in order to 'mingle' with fans - all to help his stars realise what it all means.

It's always a good thing to get rugby players dancing around fleet of foot, so that has led to Lancaster bringing in his latest brainwave: flashing disco lights.

But helping footwork is not the reason behind the bizarre system of unusual coloured lights being installed around the team's practice facilities.

It is all designed to help combat a spate of missed try-scoring opportunities believed to be down to poor visual awareness.

With the increased noise levels at Twickenham - an issue exacerbated by 'Team England's' drive towards ramping up the atmosphere and involving spectators through slogans and social media - players are now needing to rely more than ever on their visual capacity.

"There are different ways you can do it," Lancaster says. "Our system has different lights and you have got to try and see what light has been lit.

"If a light goes on in a certain place, you get in the habit of looking up and scanning."

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Skills coach Mike Catt reportedly requested the coloured lights at the team's facilities at Pennyhill Park in Surrey to force the players to react more than usual relying only on their visual stimuli rather than vocal commands.

"They are basically disco lights," scrum-half Danny Care told the Sunday Telegraph.

"They are six or seven lights dotted around on a wall and different coloured lights would come on intermittently. You’d be practising your drills, but keep your head up to see the lights.

"Put into context, it’s like me running into a ruck. You don’t want tunnel vision so you need to be also looking around for your next move."

He added: "Red light tells you to go there, and a green light somewhere else. I’ll see a colour, shout it out and go that way.

"We’ve got a nightclub going on downstairs and we go through a few moves and dance around!"

The England players are clearly enjoying their training more than ever with the 'nightclub' installed, but whether or not it will help their Six Nations tilt starting with the huge clash against Wales remains to be seen.

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