England rugby union assistant coach Matt Proudfoot wants to be part of ‘solution’

England assistant coach Matt Proudfoot says he will do whatever it takes to help the Rugby Football Union cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, RFU boss Bill Sweeney outlined the financial damage being inflicted by the crisis.

have already taken a pay cut and while the England coaches, Proudfoot, 48, says he would be prepared to make further financial sacrifices if needed.

“We need to understand the world has changed,” he told BBC Sport.

“I want to be a part of the solution, to find a way through this, and whatever I need to do, I would be on board to do that.”

Sweeney told Tuesday’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport hearing that the RFU is braced for revenue losses of more than £130m if the November internationals are canceled, while no rugby for another year would be “catastrophic” for the game in England.

“We don’t know where the game is going to be [after this],” Proudfoot, who joined the England set-up in January, added.

“A lot of international organizations are struggling – Australia, USA, South Africa – every model is in trouble.

“But what has been good is to see the leaders taking control. We can be very confident in the leadership that we have.

“There will be a thorough, well-thought-out plan, and there might be pay involved in that.”

Proudfoot, who helped guide South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory in 2019 and is spending lockdown with his family in Cape Town, added: “I live in a country where people don’t have food, so it is a serious problem.

“But we are in a very, very fortunate position to be involved in a very, very sound and strong organization [the RFU], and when they came to us to look for solutions we were prepared to do that.

“And we [the coaches] would be prepared to do whatever we needed to do to make sure this game has some sort of function going forward.”

Building bonds during the lockdown

While Proudfoot has been spending the lockdown period in South Africa, he is in constant contact with the England players over the video link.

Having only joined the England set-up earlier this year, he says he is taking this opportunity to build bonds with the players on a personal level.

“I got to know the players in a rugby environment [during the Six Nations], but now I have the opportunity to meet them in their home environment and meet their kids at home,” he explained.

“So I have set an agenda to catch up with players at home every day and find out who they are as people.

“Where I would normally have a scheduled club visit where I would see them in their rugby environment, I have tried to do it in a social [environment].

“Yesterday it was Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels, Joe Marler, Mako Vunipola and Ellis Genge.

“Gengey has just moved into a new home and is renovating the kitchen, so he was showing me his kitchen and what he was doing, while Kyle Sinckler has been telling me his dog has been sick and he has been nursing his dog.

“So you get to understand these people, and that is important to me, getting to understand and appreciate who they are.”

‘Eddie challenges me to grow’

Proudfoot says he has also built up a network of coaches worldwide during the lockdown period, in order to share ideas and broaden his knowledge and understanding of the game.

“[Head coach] Eddie [Jones] challenges me on a personal level to grow as a coach, and has helped me facilitate a network to broaden my rugby footprint, speaking to other international coaches, and learn more about the game,” Proudfoot said.

“I have various projects going on. I am going through a lot of the Premiership [matches] I may not have seen, looking at different players and understanding how different clubs in the Premiership play, and looking extensively at other nations and trying to look at it through their perspectives.

“And we still meet as [England] coaches and spend a lot of time as our coaching team, talking to each other constantly and looking at how to improve our model.

“With [defense coach] John Mitchell who is in the UK, I would light a barbecue this side and he would light one that side and we spend time talking to each other.

“We have tried to be as productive as we can. Whenever World Rugby and the RFU finalize their process about how the game will continue, we will be able to hit the ground running.”

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