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    5. Billy Vunipola: 'I thought gear school would be like sucking ..


    Billy Vunipola: 'I thought gear school would be like sucking balls – but it worked for me'

    Billy Vunipola learned to lower his tackle height after being coached by Kevin Sinfield (right) at a tackle coaching clinic. : Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

    Billy Vunipola, preparing for his first World Cup start in England, is grateful for an unexpectedly rewarding job at Kevin Sinfield's tackle school.

    Vunipola was sent off in the second half of England's third warm-up match against Ireland after a powerful tackle on opponent Andrew Porter. With an unblemished disciplinary record throughout his career, the 30-year-old was eligible for World Rugby coaching, commonly known as 'fighting school', and used it to reduce his ban from three weeks to two.

    Although he still missed England's first game of the tournament, a 27-10 win over Argentina in Marseille, Vunipola returned from the bench against Japan and is now ready to face Chile in Lille. Although skeptical at first, Number 8 found the practice beneficial.

    “Kev is very well trained in running tackle schools, which is probably not a good thing for me to say. It was a bit of a ball-sucking experience for me, but it taught me a lot technically,” admitted Vunipola, who will join forces in the back row with Lewis Ludlam and Jack Willis against Chile.

    “[Sinfield] is very good at his job, so we only needed one shot because when you do it, you need to get it off. I learned a lot about using my arms, and the biggest thing was reducing my height.

    “I'm such a big guy that I'm used to using my body as a mechanism to stop someone rather than technically in the right position. I had a good time, so I hope you don’t see anything like that again.”

    High tackles, cards and disqualifications remained the focus throughout the World Cup. Tom Curry was sent off against Argentina after colliding with Juan Cruz Mallya, and New Zealand prop Ethan de Groot was sent off against Namibia.

    The tournament remains in suspense over whether Antoine Dupont, France's phenomenal half-half, will be able to continue playing in the tournament. Dupont suffered a facial fracture when Johan Deisel, Namibia's center and captain, hit him during a game in the pool on Thursday night. Daisel's challenge – a tackle in midfield that caused a clash of heads – earned him a red card.

    Sinfield has been running tackle workshops in recent years. Despite Owen Farrell being suspended due to his own pre-season red card, Curry has already used a coaching intervention program to reduce his suspension and prepare for the start of the Six Nations.

    While Leicester Tigers defense coach under Borthwick, Ollie Chessum and Guy Porter have undergone the initiative, which includes various training modules.

    “We practice tackling skills most of the day, in short blocks, and we understand risk and safety very well and how we use them,” Sinfield explained. “Tackle school has a very specific character. Billy has been outstanding in his work, we have just completed Tom Curry's work.

    “I've already done a few of them, but these guys are human and when they compete in competitions like this, Unfortunately, players will commit errors. We try to help them and continue to work with them.

    “We see it at the elite level, but it's the grassroots where we have to help people and continue to push them and understand that sometimes people get it . I'm wrong.”

    Sinfield and Danny Care wished Dupont well, wishing him a speedy recovery after suffering a facial fracture.

    “At the World Cup you want to see the best players,” Care said. “Antoine is the best player in the world, so we want to see him in a French shirt.”

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