England's plan to take down the All Blacks...MMA

Paul Gustard, right, the England defence coach talks to George Ford and Owen Farrell. photo / Getty Image
Paul Gustard, right, the England defence coach talks to George Ford and Owen Farrell. photo / Getty Image

England have turned to mixed martial arts in search of techniques that will aid their quest to become rugby's No.1 team.

The reigning champions open their grand slam defence against France at Twickenham on February 4 armed with insight into wrestling, ju-jitsu and judo gleaned by defence coach Paul Gustard.

Gustard has been practising with an MMA expert based near England's Surrey training camp and believes some of the skills he has learned in the octagon will assist coach Eddie Jones' men throughout the Six Nations.

"It's about improving certain aspects around the contact area, around the maul and about getting back to your feet post-tackle," Gustard said.

"It's those sorts of skills that are innate in wrestling or a one-on-one combat sport and there are lots of things we can take from it.

"You always have to put it into the context of rugby, but it's helpful to see how their bodies move and how they manipulate parts of the body to get out of contact."

England are currently ranked second in the world, behind the All Blacks, and haven't lost a test since the 2015 World Cup.

World Rugby's crackdown on dangerous tackling has led to a flurry of yellow and red cards, resulting in uncertainty over the tackle, but Gustard insists England have been seeking to hone their technique before referees were instructed to get tough.

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