Eddie Jones has sent a video message to the rugby community, calling for a group effort to tackle a coronavirus crisis where Boris Johnson is Britain’s “head coach”.
England rugby union coach Jones, who has agreed to take a pay cut during the COVID-19 shutdown, said rugby clubs had a key role to play.
“Rugby has always been a game about teamwork and at the moment teamwork is so important for the nation,” he said.
In a message recorded from Japan before Johnson announced Friday that he was suffering from the coronavirus, Jones added: “So make sure you keep your discipline up, follow the head coach which at the moment is Boris Johnson.
“Keep your discipline, keep your social distance. For the players, keep working on your game.
“You can still improve your game at this time. You can set up a gym at home, you can do some training in the backyard, you can practise your skills, get your parents to help you… keep positive because we will get out of this, we will beat this virus and rugby will commence.
“So keep your spirits up, we’re supporting you and keep supporting England.”
England’s governing Rugby Football Union said this week it was facing revenue losses in the region of £45-50 ($56-62) million over the next 18 months as a consequence of the global pandemic.
Four matches in this season’s Six Nations were postponed while doubt continues to surround the future of this year’s July window for international rugby union in the southern hemisphere.
Other nations also face enormous losses but World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the game would get through the current crisis.
“149 years ago today, the first rugby international was played. Scotland v England,” the former England captain tweeted on Friday.
“The sport has been through multiple global challenges since then and we will pull together & emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic”.