‘You don’t see much bollocking anymore’: Welsh legend Jones on tough sessions with Schmidt and Sexton

AS A CORNERSTONE of Wales and Ospreys packs for over a decade – a period which covered three Grand Slams, a Championship and four Pro12 titles – Adam Jones naturally found himself regularly coming into contact with Ireland and its provinces as a direct opponent.

Adam Jones, centre, against Ireland in 2013. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

However, the tighthead today recounted with wide eyes the occasions when he was allowed into the tent with Joe Schmidt and Johnny Sexton. An unforgiving environment when both are working in tandem driving high standards.

“He was pretty good all tour, pretty calm,” says Jones as he speaks about an on-field training session with Sexton ahead of the deciding Test of the 2013 Lions trip to Australia.

“It was a pull-out from the back of a maul. We had Jamie (Roberts) coming flat, Hibbs (Richard Hibbard) was supposed to play it out the back to Johnny. Hibbs couldn’t quite get it right. And he went at Hibbs.

“Because he knew everyone’s role, (when) Hibbs didn’t know his role, it really pissed him off.”

Best buds again; Hibbard and Sexton training with the Lions. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

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When Jones left the Welsh setup in 2015 to join Harlequins, he got a chance to witness how Sexton’s fiery nature related to his long-time coach at Leinster and Ireland.

Schmidt’s side were based in Guildford midway through the pool phase of World Cup and linked up for training with Harlequins, coached then by Conor O’Shea. After Jones sustained a hefty amount of berating from Paul O’Connell for donning an Irish jersey, the veteran prop was taken aback by the intensity brought by the Kiwi and his out-half.

“I could see how (Joe) was. If you’re not doing exactly what he says, he’d stop the session… the detail was something I hadn’t seen before.

“His eyes were Johnny Sexton. It was essentially those two coaching the team, which was unbelievable to watch. Because a lot of drills when you’re coaching is player-led, but when they were running plays and patterns he was on the field telling them what to do. 

“And if it wasn’t done, then he’d stop, bollock the boys – which was amazing, you don’t see much bollocking done any more, but he wasn’t scared to do that – the detail and the dynamic between him and Sexton was interesting to watch.”

Schmidt at the heart of a training session last month in Carton House. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

All the more interesting now in hindsight for Jones, as he is nearing the end of his first full season as scrum coach with Harlequins.

“(Normally) international rugby probably doesn’t go into that much detail because you don’t have that much time. But what I’ve seen of them, some of the intricacies around the plays are down to a fine art and that’s what makes him such a good coach.”

The legendary Welsh prop was in Dublin today ahead of Wales’ Grand Slam bid against Ireland to promote Guinness and ‘to spotlight rugby’s capacity to unite’, but the bright idea of bringing Welsh entities together under one roof and name has caused caused division this year.

Talk of merging Jones’ former side Ospreys with Scarlets has been shelved, fortunately, so there is no sense that the issue will cause disruption or distraction for Warren Gatland title-chasers. 

No more than normal anyway.

“That’s what Welsh Rugby is like. Even with all the stuff that went on throughout my career you get used to it.  You learn that that’s what happens,” says the 37-year-old.

“They’ve got a strong group of boys like Alun Wyn (Jones), Ken (Owens) and Jonathan Davies that can calm people down with the hysteria, especially with the younger kids who are all about Twitter and Instagram, reading stuff on there, but you get used to it.

“It’s not the first time Wales have come out with these sort of bombshells in the middle of something.

“So, it is what it is with Welsh Rugby.”

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Despite playing against each other for their respective national teams, Tommy Bowe and Adam Jones caught up through Guinness to spotlight rugby’s extraordinary capacity to unite.

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