England inspired by tennis world in bid to serve up Rugby World Cup win over Japan

England inspired by tennis world in bid to serve up Rugby World Cup win over Japan

England are hoping their stay in Patrick Mouratoglou’s tennis academy can inspire them to Rugby World Cup game, set and match.

Steve Borthwick’s men have holed up in the hills above Nice ahead of Sunday’s World Cup Pool D clash with Japan.

The Red Rose side have latched onto several sporting distractions in France, and are relishing their luscious surroundings for the weekend.

Mouratoglou coached Serena Williams to a stunning sequence of nine Grand Slam titles in 18 major tournaments, and allied to his elite career has built the eponymous first-class tennis facility and hotel that England currently call home.

England served up a host of gunshot aces to defeat Argentina 27-10 last weekend, with George Ford’s unerring boot steering them to victory over the Pumas.

The challenge against a high-octane Japan tomorrow will be more baseline slugfest than serve-volley smash and grab, and England want to take the chance to stay on their feet and put together some substantive attacking rallies.

“It’s my first Rugby World Cup but I’ve quickly learned it’s easy to get lost in everything that’s going on,” said full-back Freddie Steward.

“The media circus and the hype around the RWC is amazing, but being at places like this, it’s nice to have that distraction and escape from that for a bit. And then you can really switch it on when the games come thick and fast.

“The boys have been trying their hand at padel recently, we’ve got a great spot in Le Touquet. We’ve got a padel tournament next week which will be good fun.

“Alex Mitchell, he’s a very good player and he got all the lads into it. And then Max Malins, it was the first time he played the other day, and he was phenomenal.

“He’s just one of those people who are good at everything.”

Gloucester wing Jonny May believes the challenge of facing a fast-moving Japan team could bring the best out of England’s as-yet ailing running game.

“We’ll expect the best of Japan at this weekend, they have upset teams before,” said May.

“I’d say 90 per cent of our energy is focused on ourselves, as always. But we’ve allocated the respect and attention that Japan deserve as the good outfit that they are.

“They move the ball, pass the ball more than any other team. So we’re going to have to run, and if you don’t they’ll catch you out.

“We need to be at our very best, we want to improve, and we want to show that we can deal with the Japanese threat as well. So it’s a brilliant challenge for us.”