Slade explains England's secret
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs star Henry Slade has revealed how a night of darts helped to inspire England to victory over rivals Ireland in their opening fixture in this season's Guinness Six Nations Championship.
Handed a daunting opening test in Dublin, Eddie Jones's side secured an impressive 32-20 win, which included Slade scoring twice for the visitors.
It capped the perfect start for England, who will now be looking to back it up this weekend when France are the visitors to Twickenham.
Slade insists, however, the foundations for that success were created just days before and forged on the oches of Flight Club in London.
"We had a room, played some darts, a couple of drinks and had a real good time. I checked out with three doubles - I shocked myself," said Slade. "We've had a real emphasis on being together on and off the field, getting together in little groups off the field and having a good time... we didn't tend to do that as much before.'
He added: "You feel closer to the bloke next to you because you've shared experiences off the field. It's not purely business and work; you're playing with your mates. It feels like you're back at school playing with your mates, who you genuinely want to do well for."
The night of team bonding came before the England squad flew to Portugal for a training camp, and after Jones asked his players if there was anything away from rugby they wanted to do ahead of their Six Nations campaign.
"I have to congratulate the senior players," said Jones. "They organised that night out and didn't get into trouble - which isn't always the case when you've got 30 guys going out and having a drink."