‘I’m a designer at heart,’ says England’s newest coach Ed Robinson sitting in the clubhouse at Jersey Reds looking over the main pitch by the airport in St Peter, talking through his life away from rugby.
‘Before coaching I studied ergonomics. I was doing everything, like designing microwaves for people with dementia, so when you put the food in it just scans the packet, you don’t have push any buttons; it just knows what to do.
‘It’s been a great foundation for my coaching. The designing process, how you come up with ideas directly translates to your coaching. Being resourceful.
Ed Robinson is looking to make an impression as England attack coach this summer
Ed (right) has followed his father Andy (left) into becoming an England rugby coach
‘The biggest thing is understanding how to work with people and paint pictures in people’s heads.
‘I also looked at how cars are built to relate to people and did a dissertation at Loughborough University on the thermal environment in stadia, and how humans react to them.
‘It was the relationship between the game, heart rate and temperature. Obviously when there are tries scored heart rates go up, and we react to it better.
‘But when the game gets a bit stale people get pretty cold.’
If there had been supporters allowed at England’s Six Nations matches, Twickenham would have been mostly full of frozen fans, then.
After their fifth-placed finish in that tournament Robinson’s next assignment is engineering something beautiful – or at least far more functional – from England’s attack, now Eddie Jones has brought Jersey’s coach back into the national squad for summer Tests against USA and Canada having first used him in February and March.
The son of the former England boss Andy who was Sir Clive Woodward’s No 2 at the 2003 World Cup, Ed Robinson is Jones’ latest project.
Aged just 28 he is younger than many of the normal senior squad but tipped for great things. His youth does not bother him one bit, having packed plenty into his few years.
‘If you’re ready you’re ready,’ Robinson tells Sportsmail, a steeliness behind his quiet voice.
Eddie Jones has brought Robinson back into the fold for England's summer Test matches
‘I was coaching five teams a week to earn enough money to pay rent – including Clifton College, Clifton RFC, Filton, Bristol University – in my early 20s. I coached teenagers, some internationals like Samoan Alfie To'oala who was in his mid 30s.
‘The game is the same, whether it’s 40 kids running round half a field with one floodlight or preparing the guys to play against France in the Six Nations.
‘Obviously things get more intense up the top and there’s a bit more pressure, things are a bit quicker, but in terms of how my coaching has developed those years are invaluable.
‘That’s never been an issue for me, age. It’s just building relationships with people.’
His one with Jones came from a chance meeting in the Channel Islands pre-Covid.
‘Eddie came to do a talk here, and we got to spend an hour with him,’ Robinson explains.
‘I picked his brain and from then we chatted on and off. When we went into lockdown we spoke every week on Zoom.
‘I went to see him in the Six Nations 2020 camp before the Wales Test for a day too. In January I came in for a training day at Jersey and saw I had a message at 6.30am saying “call me”.
‘So that was it – I called him, flew the next day and was straight into England’s Six Nations camp.’
Robinson was the shock replacement for Jason Ryles, the Australian skills coach stuck at home due to Covid, and worked to improve Max Malins’ kicking, Anthony Watson and Jonny May’s high-ball catching technique and more during the Championship.
‘It wasn’t something entirely new, but it was still daunting,’ explains Robinson who attended England training as a kid with his father, and watched Jonny Wilkinson’s World Cup-winning drop-goal in 2003 while fighting his brother in the Sydney stands.
Though just 28, Robinson believes 'if you're ready, you're ready' and is confident in his ability
‘I was the young lad at Pennyhill Park tearing round the place with a ball. Richard Hill told me I used to wake him up by kicking a ball round near his bedroom window!’
So Robinson felt the pain of England’s recent struggles as much as anyone – but has learnt to deal with the critics after his father’s sacking by the RFU in 2006.
‘The results really stung,’ he says.
‘When it comes to criticism I’ve been through that with Dad, seeing how he was treated. To see what he put into England, what he did for England, and how he was treated at the end, it’s water off a duck’s back really.
‘But also, if the team is not performing that’s what should happen. Everyone should be frustrated when England don’t win. No one was more frustrated than us.’
When Robinson soon returns to the mainland this weekend 12 English Lions will be swapping places with him to train in Jersey – where Plémont Beach his top tip for a dip – before the South Africa tour.
The youthful squad he will find gathered at the Lensbury will have new minds to shape for him and his boss.
Robinson and Jones agree on at least one mantra – that life experience, and setbacks, make better players.
Robinson himself has strived to forge a new career since concussion ended his playing days at 19.
Robinson lamented Andy's treatment as England head coach but said he isn't fazed by critics
Then playing for Loughborough he took two separate knocks to the head in different matches against Nottingham Trent a month apart around Christmas.
‘I took time off, followed the protocols, went back to preseason and it just wasn’t right,’ he explains.
‘I did a sprint and was sick, so could just never really get back to it. I got close again and had a few more symptoms so that was it.
‘Now I still get symptoms from light, physical exercise and loud music.’
Robinson has moved on from that now, though, philosophical and feeling stronger for every experience in his short career – good or bad.
‘Concussion doesn’t define who I am or what I do, it’s just a part of my life,’ he concludes.
‘I reckon if I played tomorrow I’d be 100 times a better player than when I finished. Everybody has bits in their life they’ve got to get over.’
Better for his past, Robinson is ready for a future of grand designs coaching England.