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Watch: England rugby stars in epic tug of war against Dakar Rally truck

The England men’s rugby union team prepared for their crunch Autumn International clash with world champions South Africa by undergoing an epic tug of war against an 8.5 tonne Dakar Rally truck in ‘The Stress Test’ on Red Bull TV.

England coach Eddie Jones saw his team lose the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final to the Springboks 32-12 in Yokohama, Japan and wanted to get them better prepared for their first game since that agonising day.

The Australian mastermind and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) wanted their players to come up against a number of stressful challenges to help cope with high pressure scenarios in big games like this one.

The climax of the beasting involved all 28 players having a tug of war with an imposing 8.5 tonne Dakar Rally competitor, a legend of the sport capable of an incredible 1,150 brake horsepower.

Arranged through the Head of Strength and Conditioning coach, Jon Clarke, the talented England squad battled against a mighty vehicle supplied by Red Bull – weighing the equivalent to two adult elephants – testing both their problem solving skills and teamwork.

Designed to race over mountainous dunes and dangerous ravines during the gruelling two-week Dakar Rally, the rally-raid truck – piloted by 2015 champion Airat Mardeev – was on hand to provide an unprecedented climax to lung-bursting work out in a man vs. machine tug of war.

Mardeev, 34, revealed: “As a team, we’re always looking at ways we can innovate our training environment to stay ahead of the competition. Looking ahead to the 2022 Dakar Rally, this will be no different. Being prepared mentally is as important as training physically, so sessions like these will provide a positive benefit on the pitch.”

Clarke added: “Controlling what happens between your ears can make the difference between winning and losing. We wanted to create a scenario where the players had to work as a team to solve problems to win within a pressurised environment.

This camp includes a number of new faces and personalities, so including this within our programme helps to bring the team together and creates an opportunity for individuals to understand how they will react on the big stage.”

The unique training camp helped England as Jones’ team – full of exciting, fresh talent – held their own with South Africa to edge a 27-26 win at Twickenham thanks to Marcus Smith’s 79th-minute penalty.

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