Head Coach of the English National Rugby team, Eddie Jones, has admitted spying on opponents in the past, but says he stopped doing so a decade ago because it had become a waste of time.
The England coach was speaking to The Guardian Newspaper, after listening to the Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa reveal that he had spied on Championship rival clubs all season.
“He was telling everyone what everyone does,” said Jones. “Fifteen years ago, we used to send people out in costumes to watch training – it used to be part of the pre-match brief then. I can remember sending a coach who is now in a very senior position dressed like a swagman to watch one team train and he got chased out of there.
“You do not need to do it now because you see everything now in a game. I have been coaching for 20 years and it has always been going on but I can say with a hand on my heart, we don’t do it any more. We don’t see the value of it because we can glean most of the stuff from games now.”
Jones accepted spying could become an issue in the World Cup with some training grounds surrounded by high-rise buildings, adding: “We will have the security we need, but I don’t want to get to the extent where we go to the team room and we’re putting Blu Tack on the keyhole or looking under seats for tape recorders. It creates a sense of paranoia.”
Jones pointed out that spying was not always covert. “I was having a coffee with [assistant] Steve Borthwick in South Africa and a bloke comes out with a camera and starts trying to take photos of all our notes. You can be too obsessed about it, just do what you can to protect what is important.”
At the 2003 World Cup in Australia, the then England Coach, Clive Woodward was said to have hired ex-special forces men to combat spying. England electronically swept hotel meeting rooms for bugs.