• AFP-JIJI

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Eddie Jones believes England’s lack of aggression at the start of its Six Nations title defense may be the result of playing behind closed doors.

England began the tournament with a lackluster effort in an 11-6 loss against Scotland, a match that saw England’s oldest rival win at Twickenham for the first time since 1983.

England wasn’t at its best lasts weekend either, despite running in six tries to beat Italy 41-18.

Both matches were played without spectators because of coronavirus restrictions, a situation that is set to continue when England travels to Cardiff for a third-round clash with Wales, a title contender, on Feb. 27.

Meanwhile, England coach Jones believes a study into Austrian Bundesliga soccer team Salzburg, which shows the impact of playing behind closed doors, could hold lessons for his side as well.

That research indicated a fifth fewer “emotional situations” take place when stadiums are empty of fans, leading to a reduction in on-field flashpoints and arguments, with Jones saying the absence of spectators was having a similar impact on rugby union as well.

“Most teams are a bit up and down at the moment. The arousal level is the thing we are looking at most,” Jones said.

“Games are tending to be less aggressive generally in rugby and it has been the same in football,” the former Australia and Japan coach explained.

“There is research that shows the arousal level has dropped and that the type of play and the type of behavior has been less aggressive. In our sport that is a particularly important area.

“We have tried to investigate that. We don’t have any solutions at the moment but that is the thing we are looking at most.”

Jones added: “If you look at our first performance against Scotland, we lacked our normal aggression, we lacked our normal go-at-them type of game. We were a little bit better against Italy, but still not where we need to be.”

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