London: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said Thursday he had gained "inspiration" from meeting with England rugby coach Eddie Jones and experiencing the Australian's "winning" mentality at first hand.
The Italian clearly knows something about winning himself, having revived Chelsea's fortunes since his pre-season arrival at Stamford Bridge to the extent that the Blues head into this weekend's Premier League fixtures eight points clear at the top of the table.
By contrast, they finished a mediocre 10th last season after winning the 2014/15 title under Jose Mourinho, now the manager of Manchester United.
Jones's effect on the England rugby team has been equally transformative, with the side having won all 15 of their Tests since he took charge following the team's first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup.
"We spoke about our experience and it was very interesting to speak to him (Jones)," Conte told englandrugby.com. "Eddie is a winner and he is transferring that mentality on to the team."
Both Chelsea's training ground and the England rugby team's equivalent set-up are in the county of Surrey, south-west of London.
Jones visited Chelsea's training facilities in Cobham last April, when Guus Hiddink was the Blues' interim boss, with Conte and assistant Steve Holland looking in at England's Bagshot base on Wednesday.
Former Italy head coach Conte's compatriots will face defending Grand Slam champions England in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Sunday.
Earlier this season, Chelsea won 13 successive Premier League matches but this weekend will see England in search of a 17th successive Test victory.
If they achieve it, Jones's men will be one shy of world champions New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins by a tier one or leading rugby union nation.
England's winning sequence started with a 'dead' pool victory over Uruguay at the 2015 World Cup but, with the team already knocked out, did not prevent former coach Stuart Lancaster being sacked and replaced by Jones.
"It is important for me to compare my work and experience with another sport to gain inspiration and tactical ideas for the future," Conte added.
"For me it was very interesting to observe another sport and the differences between the two such as the physical aspect to their training as well as speak with Eddie Jones about the analysis side to the game."
England football manager Gareth Southgate has met with Jones, as have other senior soccer figures including former Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew.
Meeting Conte was a particular pleasure for England fly-half George Ford, a Chelsea fan.
"I used to love watching Frank Lampard play so that's where my support for Chelsea comes from," Ford said.
"It was great to meet the manager, you can obviously see why they are successful at the minute, he is very experienced at what he does and meeting Steve Holland was also great," added the outside half, who will rejoin former club Leicester from English rivals Bath at the end of the season
"There are 13 Premier League games left, they are in a good spot, so touch wood they can win it (the Premier League title).
Jones has made no secret of wanting to learn from other sports, bringing in Kate Howey, a former world judo champion turned British team coach, to help improve his side's tackling and breakdown techniques.
Meanwhile, Jones revealed after a 22-16 win over Wales in Cardiff earlier this month that adapting the system of "tactical periodisation" developed by a physiologist who worked with Mourinho had helped him improve the fitness of his England squad.
Published Date: Feb 24, 2017 14:54 PM | Updated Date: Feb 24, 2017 14:54 PM