England players have been instructed to stay in France during their “rest” week at the World Cup despite the fact that members of the management team and coaching staff have been allowed to return home this week.
After all-but securing their place in the quarter-finals with a bonus point win against Chile on Saturday, England have a 14-day break until their final pool match against Samoa on 7 October. As a result, the players have been given Monday and Tuesday off and, although they are not restricted to staying at England’s official base camp in Le Touquet, they will remain in France.
World Rugby has said that strictly speaking players are allowed home but as they remain “in tournament” they must fulfil their obligations which include media appearances, providing anti-doping whereabouts, commercial commitments and they are still bound by the tournament’s code of conduct. The governing body added that while requests to leave the host country are normally made on grounds such as “compassionate leave”, some teams have been asking during their rest weeks.
But confirming that management and assistant coaches, including Richard Wigglesworth and Kevin Sinfield, have been given the permission to briefly return to the UK, Borthwick said: “The players can’t … the players are allowed to leave Le Touquet, they don’t go back to England, they stay in France. But they’re allowed to leave Le Touquet.
“There’s no training for the next few days. I’ll be using it in preparation for the Samoa game and ensuring that when training commences on Thursday our preparation is spot on for everything we need to come back here to Lille to get the performance we want.”
Borthwick is expected to remain in Le Touquet as are some players, who find themselves just 50 miles from home but unable to return – all the while they can, in theory, travel more than 500 miles to Nice.
Instead, families are set to join the players in France. “It’s always a challenge being away from your family,” the flanker Jack Willis said. “They have to hold the fort at home when we are here working away. It’s a challenge for both ends.
“I think there’s a mutual respect in everyone’s relationship in what is going on there. I couldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Megan and everything she does for us. It works both ways in these relationships and we just want to do them proud.”
Meanwhile Henry Arundell, who scored five tries in the 71-0 victory against Chile, is likely to be allowed to represent England in the Six Nations next year despite being based in France.
Arundell, 20, was left unemployed when London Irish went bust in June and has since signed for Racing 92. Willis has been granted permission to represent England at the World Cup because Wasps went under last season and Arundell is expected to be given similar dispensation by the Professional Game Board after the tournament in France.