Home Rugby English Rugby Exclusive: Double World Cup Winner Sherylle Calder – ‘Eddie Jones Has A Superb Rugby Brain’

Exclusive: Double World Cup Winner Sherylle Calder – ‘Eddie Jones Has A Superb Rugby Brain’

There are not many people outside of the all-conquering All Blacks who can say they’ve won two Rugby World Cups, but Dr. Sherylle Calder is one of them.

Dr. Calder is the creator of EyeGym, a software programme suite that involves ‘Visual Performance Training Science’ that allows players to improve the use of their vision in order to make better decisions on the field.

“As part of my research I have learnt that you can train the eyes and brain to work better for the body. I myself played at an elite sporting level and in terms of international rugby first worked with the All Blacks. With England and the 2003 World Cup we predicted that if you could make better decisions than the opposing team you can win the tournament and that’s exactly what England did.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 23:  (L-R) Jonny Wilkinson, Clive Woodward and Martin Johnson pose with the Webb Ellis Cup during the International Rugby Board Awards at Wharf 8 November 23, 2003 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Dave Rogers/Getty Images)

It was Calder’s work with the All Blacks that first brought her to the attention of the unorthodox England head coach Clive Woodward, a man who prides himself on breaking down existing paradigms and revolutionising approaches to athletic development and management.

“I was first working with the All Blacks and there was a game against South Africa in Durban. Clive sent two of his coaches – one of which was Andy Robinson – to watch the game but also to find me. They asked me to consider coming on board with England and I did once I had fulfilled my contract with the All Blacks.”

EyeGym itself can be tailored to individuals and to individuals within a team and Dr. Calder recalls a time when she was with Jonny Wilkinson to show the impact it was making on him as a player:

“One of the best examples I can tell you about the impact of EyeGym on the England team was when I was sitting in the back of a taxi with him and he said to me, ‘before I would just get the ball and go with what was in my head, but now I can see I have up to three possible decisions I can make in each situation, and choose the best one,’ so for me that is one of the best ways I can show you that the programme was having an impact on the players.”

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 01:  Jonny Wilkinson of England gives instructions to the scrum during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between England and Scotland at Eden Park on October 1, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

As well as being part of the backroom staff that won the World Cup with England in 2003, Calder went on to work with the South African squad at the 2007 World Cup:

“The culture in South Africa is very different to England, but it is my home country and I was very honoured to be part of that squad and to represent my country.”

Calder’s work assisted the Springboks to win their first William Webb Ellis trophy since 1995 and meant she is the proud holder of back-to-back titles.

Of course, she is full of praise for the coaches she worked with:

“Clive has a fantastic rugby brain and is a coach that is always open-minded and willing to try new ideas. Jake White was the same. They both gave me free reign to work with and improve the skills and decision making of the players.”

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 10:  Dr Sherylle Calder and Gert Smal during a South Africa training session at Noisy Le Grand on October 10, 2007 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Dr Sherylle Calder and Gert Smal during a South Africa training session at Noisy Le Grand on October 10, 2007 in Paris, France.

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Moreover, Calder worked with current England coach Eddie Jones on two separate occasions: during South Africa’s 2007 World Cup campaign when Eddie Jones was appointed as technical advisor to the Springboks, but also during his time with Japanese club team Suntory Sungoliath. She says two things set Jones apart from many other coaches.

“Firstly he has a superb rugby brain and also he is – for want of a better word – very disciplined. He is incredibly strict on performance but is also fantastically tactically aware and knows how to get the best out of his players through this.”

As Dr. Calder continues to travel the globe working with athletes in a plethora of sports, she hopes to work in rugby again soon.

“At the moment I am working in golf across the Majors. There are things in the pipeline, which haven’t been confirmed yet, but I’d love to be involved in the next World Cup. You know, rugby is in my blood and it would be wonderful to be involved.”

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EyeGym is a leading-edge software visual training programme. It provides a range of drills suitable for all sports people, scholars and corporates regardless of level.

From junior school to international athletes, EyeGym is unique and the training package recommended for maximum performance.

You can learn more about the programme here.

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Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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About Paul Wassell

Paul Wassell
Paul is an English teacher by day and an avid rugby fan the rest of the time. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, or contact him at [email protected]

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