England get up to speed with McLaren's help

England are far from the fastest team in world rugby and the line-up for Monday's official kit launch – the Northampton strike runners Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, the long-retired half-back Kyran Bracken and four mannequins – was just about the quickest red-rose back division in recent memory. Yet things will surely improve if an intriguing high-tech link with the McLaren Formula One team bears fruit ahead of next month's global tournament in New Zealand.

John Hall, the former international flanker who has been in charge of the team's heavily computerised performance analysis programme for several years, is working closely with the vroom-vroom merchants, who happen to be based in Woking, no more than seven miles – roughly a two-minute drive at Lewis Hamilton speed – from the squad's World Cup camp near Bagshot. "It's very much an embryonic thing," said Mike Ford, the England defence coach. "They're looking at the way we do our analysis and we're looking at their systems, just to see if we can feed off each other."

This harks back to England's year of years in 2003, when the manager of that outstanding World Cup-winning side, Clive Woodward, used every scientific development then known to sporting man in a successful effort to secure advantages over the opposition. Woodward cast his net far and wide: he brought in an Israeli aviation enthusiast and handwriting expert who had developed a computer program that assessed an individual's capacity to operate under heavy stress, together with a visual awareness specialist, who made a significant contribution as an "eye coach" despite, it is alleged, failing to spot the ball that struck her on the head during a training session.

One man who clearly remembers Woodward's mantra about "doing a hundred things one per cent better than everyone else" is Mike Tindall, one of the key performers in the '03 final and a stone-cold certainty to make the trip to All Black country for next month's tournament. "The greatest thing Clive did was to ensure we were ahead of other people," he said yesterday. "That's very hard to repeat: teams have caught up and are working at the same level, so you're really looking for an edge of half a per cent now.

"But the conditioning guys, the analysis people getting involved with McLaren...everyone is trying to find that little bit extra in terms of data and feedback. They're looking at all the data we pull up from the Global Positioning System and the heart-rate monitors we use, trying to work out when players are most at risk of injury and making sure we operate at the optimum level without going over the edge. We're giving McLaren loads of numbers about what we're doing during training and if we can find a statistical model that helps prevent injury, maybe that's a half per cent we can steal."

Tindall, who led England in the absence of Lewis Moody last season, is currently England's senior outside centre and intends to stay that way, despite the enthusiastic challenges of the Bath back Matt Banahan and the uncapped Leicester youngster Manu Tuilagi. He seems entirely unfazed by the continuing fuss surrounding his marriage to Zara Phillips last weekend and insists he is wholly at ease with his mother-in-law's conflicting rugby loyalties. Reminded that the Princess Royal is patron of the Scottish Rugby Union, he said: "She'll be supporting us apart from when we play the Scots in our last pool game, but I'll forgive her that."

Had he not been distracted at all by recent events? "Hundreds of boys get married and then come into work after the weekend," replied Tindall, who left camp last Thursday and was back in it by Monday lunchtime. "I know there was a little bit more going on around our wedding, but it was everything we wanted it to be and all the distractions were external. I've always had the ability to focus on what I'm doing at a particular time. That was training up until the point I left, and it's training now."

While the Rugby Football Union was having another of its "interesting" days – within minutes of the governing body declaring this weekend's England-Wales warm-up game at Twickenham an 82,000 sell-out, the sports minister Hugh Robertson could be heard urging it to act quickly to address the internal squabbling that has seen a number of high-profile departures and left it without a permanent chairman or chief executive – the Scots, who play England in Auckland at the start of October, were making their first moves ahead of the meeting with Ireland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Ross Rennie, the 25-year-old Edinburgh forward, will feature on the open-side flank – his first international appearance in the role – while Graeme Morrison returns to midfield after missing the Six Nations through injury.

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital