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England, Wales put aside rugby rivalry to train together

November 6, 2017

FILE - This is a Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 file photo of England's head coach Eddie Jones as he smiles during an England rugby union team training session at a school in London. One of rugby’s fiercest rivalries was briefly set aside when England and Wales joined for a training session on Monday Nov. 6, 2017, to hone their set-pieces ahead of the autumn international series. England forwards coach Steve Borthwick brokered an unprecedented arrangement between the two nations for a 40-minute practice session in Bristol, a city located approximately halfway between the rivals’ training bases. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant/File)

One of rugby’s fiercest rivalries was briefly set aside Monday when England and Wales joined together for a training session to hone their set-pieces ahead of the autumn international series.

England forwards coach Steve Borthwick brokered an unprecedented arrangement between the two nations for a 40-minute practice session in Bristol, a city located approximately halfway between the rivals’ training bases.

With Welsh referee Nigel Owens watching, the respective forward packs completed 12 scrums and 16 lineouts.

England prop Harry Williams had jokingly teed it up as the “Battle of Bristol.” It didn’t turn out like that.

“There was a little bit of an edge,” England scrum coach Neal Hatley said, “but there was nothing serious. Both sides took a lot from it.”

When asked which nation gained the upper hand, Hatley replied: “We’ll look at the video and take it from there.”

The idea originated when England coach Eddie Jones was contemplating how his side’s scrum could be taken “to the next level” and compete with those of New Zealand and Argentina.

A practice session in Georgia — a country renowned for having strong scrummagers — was dismissed before Borthwick called up Wales coach Warren Gatland, with the pair having worked together with the British and Irish Lions in June and July.

England starts its series of November tests with a game against Argentina on Saturday, before further matches at Twickenham against Australia and Samoa.

Wales takes on Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa over successive weekends.

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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