England names team to play Australia at Twickenham


Stuart Lancaster has named the England side for the first test of November’s Autumn Internationals at Twickenham.

What do you make of this team selection?


15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 18 caps)
14 Chris Ashton (Saracens, 34 caps)
13 Joel Tomkins (Saracens, uncapped)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 5 caps)
11 Marland Yarde (London Irish, 1 cap)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 16 caps)
9 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 9 caps)
1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 9 caps)
2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 40 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 11 caps)
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 22 caps)
6. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 20 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 17 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 2 caps)

16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 47 caps)
17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 12 caps)
18 David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 28 caps)
19 Dave Attwood Bath Rugby, 4 caps)
20 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 12 caps)
21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps)
22 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 57 caps)
23 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints, 32 caps)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

49 thoughts on “England names team to play Australia at Twickenham

  1. With Billy Vunipola, Lee Dickson and Mike Brown in the starting line-up, Stuart Lancaster is really rewarding early season form.

    England haven’t picked a massive “set-piece pack”, which is a positive move in my book. Too many England sides have focused on killing Australia at the set-piece and ended up losing key battles around the park.

    The back line is very inexperienced and there will be a lot of pressure on Farrell to get the team moving, playing in the right areas and also to keep the scoreboard ticking over. After his Lions experience this series could be the making of him.

    1. The NH blueprint for beating the Wallabies (England, France, Ireland, Lions) has been to smash them upfront. I can’t recall a recent an example of a NH team getting a win over them without forward dominance (even first Lions test was nearly thrown away when our set piece fell apart at the end).

      The flip side of that is how many games to England win when the set piece is struggling? We scraped past France in the 6N, but generally a retreating England pack means a loss.

      Going for mobility and athleticism alone in the tight 5 makes me think the Cardiff nightmare has been too painful to face, so they’ve airbrushed it out of the RFU history books. We were pulverised in the forwards and must rectify that deficiency to progress. We may get away with it against Australia, but Argentina may give us a painful reminder of the primary role of, for example, a tight head prop.

      I’m approaching the weekend and Autumn series with hope, but not a lot of confidence! A bit like before the ABs game last year ….

      1. To be fair, not many international matches are won by the team that lose the forwards battle. That isn’t and England issue, its a fact about rugby.

        1. Not a phenomenon unique to England I agree, the Wallabies buck the trend, Argentina often shade their opponents in the tight and come out the wrong side and PI nations don’t get their wins through scrummaging the life out of their opponents.

          I’m not advocating a return to 10 man up-the-jumper rugby, but I am concerned that with law changes that make scrummaging far more attritional, going for mobility and athleticism over grunt leaves us open to having the life sucked out of us upfront.

          We do have some good scrummaging units on the bench, so hopefully over the 80 we will be OK.

          1. I really don’t see it as much of an issue. What happened at the Millennium Stadium was a one off IMO. Wales played absolutely out of their skin, and we were caught cold.

            Launchbury and Lawes are big boys; Youngs and Vunipola have benefited from the new scrum laws and Cole is no slouch.

            Agree with you about Argentina and Australia, but outside of that, rugby is usually won in the forwards.

  2. Looks like a good balanced team, although Brown and Dickson might be playing well but they don’t have the class of Foden & B Youngs. not bad subs to have on the bench. I’m looking forward to Lawes tackling Horwell and registering a minor earthquake with the local geological survey team.

    Without wanting to sound too much of troll – How are general England fans feeling to have two massive forwards with thick Pontypool accents in there national team starting XV? Personally I cant wait. Hope one gets man of the match, I love hearing them talk!

    1. Haha, their accents are great aren’t they!! I guess it’s the same as Welshmen feel hearing some of their team speak with no hint of a Welsh accent!! I’m really hoping Billy has a good game and puts down a massive marker for the other tests.

      1. Or Cuthbert with his “I moved to Wales for uni when I was 18, but had better try to sound Welsh” accent. ;-)

        It’s an international game now, end of really!

      2. but welsh fans are quite used to it by now, but is this a first for english fans? I know every NH team steals the odd handful of SH players but welsh to english must be a new level.

    2. North has now returned to the country of his birth to play for the club nearest his town of his birth!

      Maybe Lydiate will do the same and head off to Sale.

      1. I’m amazed the amount the starting line ups of these two teams have changed in 12 months – England have retained 4 players Ashton, T Youngs, Cole & Robshaw whilst Australia have 5 – Ashley cooper, Cummins, Alexander, Timani and Hooper.

      2. If you’re a winger with a choice then you’re bound to pick Wales. Hanging around on the wing while the likes of Brown/Tuilagi/Farrel and all of the forwards studiously avoid getting the ball out wide would be too boring.

  3. I’m really happy with the team selection. It is exactly the squad I predicted. A good balance throughout with players on form starting, and then lots of impact and experience on the bench. Looking forward to see Farrell, Twelvetrees and Tomkins together, I think they especially could be a key match up. Yarde and Ashton will hopefully have good opportunities to run off Brown from counter attacks, and if Billy V gets good ball from scrums, I expect to see him taking the ball up and testing their midfield defence. Especially if he’s running at Cooper!

    1. Agreed – want to see the Vunipolas running straight at Cooper with the ball in hand.

      And when Cooper has the ball, I want his field of vision to be entirely filled with a charging Courtney Lawes.

      Given how quickly Lawes and Launchbury cover the ground, I can see Cooper’s kicks being charged down a couple of times

  4. Pretty happy with this, only position i would change is Youngs in for Dickson, but other than that I am very happy, reckon we will be able to give Aus a damn good game. Definetly want to see Parling back in instead of Lawes when he is better.

    1. I’d have picked Lawes whether Parling was fit or not actually. I don’t buy into the ‘lineout captain’ role, because I can’t believe it’s that hard. Lawes has hit some good form, and he gives the pack a bit of menace which is lacking elsewhere.

      Can’t wait for Saturday.

  5. Only change I would make is Foden in for Brown… Brown is good yes but Foden has that little bit of class and spark to his game that no other English full back has… still good side to put out against the aussies

  6. Form Vs Credit/Class aside on the Youngs/Dixon debate I think Dixon is the best way to go with the pack we have selected. Dixon gets the ball away from the ruck faster than Youngs, if we’ve gone for mobility and athleticism over grunt upfront we have to play at a speed that enables us to exploit it.

    We have a strong bench, all can add something when they come on.

    I think it’s Australia by 10, but I’ll be oh so happy to be completely wrong.

  7. I know that I seem to be the only one to care, but what was the point of the team announcement today. The daily telegraph published it yesterday. SL/RFU briefings/leaks make me very annoyed!

    Not too many issues with the team apart from Foden being on the bench when he is clear and away our best international 15. Hopefully he will prove it when he comes off the bench.

    Also fall into the slightly concerned camp as to how heavyweight our front 5 is. As a Glos supporter I am being heavily scarred by lightweight front 5’s this season. Doesn’t matter how much talent you have behind the scrum, if you don’t win those forward collisions, you won’t get go forward ball, quick ball or penalties. We’ll wait to see but I am quite worried by this game. Head and heart thinking different things at the moment.

    1. Staggy, I have quickly done a little researching and it’s actually very even between the two front fives. Vunipola is the heaviest by approx. 1st and Youngs is the lightest by approx. 1st. The rest of the two front fives as they line up are about the same. Maybe a few lb’s difference here and there, but with Billy at the back I can’t see it making a lot of difference.

      1. Interesting Dazza, although it doesn’t alleviate my concern completely as if we are on a par with the aussies, it means we are lighter than everyone else (no scientific research went into this wild generalisation!). Also if we are only even with the aussies up front, who generally uses their backline better – the aussies, so I remain concerned! Wales and the second lions test are recent memories.

      2. I know these are going to fluctuate a lot throughout the season and it doesn’t factor in how much lard each player is carrying … but taking everything from ESPN Aussies are 8lbs a man heavier in the tight 5.

        Horwill 255
        Timani 264
        Slipper 257
        Moore 246
        Alexander 264
        Total 1286

        Launchbury 257
        Lawes 246
        Youngs 224
        Cole 252
        Vunipola 266
        Total 1245

        M. Vunipola is a big unit, an improving scrummager, but not a dominant one. Wilson is listed at 277 and Attwood 264 both are renowned for their work in the tight, so this is where we need to be looking if we are lacking the grunt upfront.

  8. Looks like a potentially dangerous back line, but I’m a little concerned about the lack of experience. I’d have perhaps preferred Youngs or Flood in the fly halves positions to give a little more certainty before the more inexperienced line.

    1. Wouldn’t have gone for Flood, but do agree to a certain extent re experience as we are playing one of the SH big hitters.

      1. Yeah, as I said, either/or. I personally prefer Flood to Farell but I’m aware I’m in a minority there. Just one or the other would be enough to make for a more stable foundation for the back line in my opinion.

      1. I think the aussie front 5 have over 200 caps between them, not sure about further back – slightly less I expect.

  9. Oddly balanced team – some flair with 12T and Yarde but will need to see the Lions Farrel, rather than the Sarries one, if that flair is going to be used. That could have been countered with Foden running into the line but with Brown instead it’s another sledgehammer. Apart from Foden there’s nothing exciting in the backs on the bench – steady-the-ship sort of players to come on so Lancaster must be hoping it’s close and/or Eng win it in the first 40.

    It’s surprising that, given Lancaster was brought in as a new broom almost 2 years ago, this has the look of another stab at a new RWC 22 – Tuilagi isn’t his fault but I couldn’t see Barrit getting back into this team even when fit? England need to see if they can get some of these boys to put their hands up now – Lawes has been “potential” for too long for example.

    1. Agree with you for the most part. Although Farrell for Sarries this year has continued his Lions form which is exciting for England fans!

      Completely agree with you about Foden/Brown, but it seems everyone outside of SL does. I would like to have been Foden start with Eastmond in the 23 shirt.

      The Lawes point is a good one, and it seems he has been told the same thing this summer and has really kicked on this year at Saints, so I’m hoping he translates that into the international arena! Will be interesting,

      1. Not me. I’m with SL on the Brown/Foden thing.

        Actually, i’m probably neutral, as i do not see too much between them, and just side with SL as he is the man who sees them close up (so to speak).

        At the risk of raking up old ground, I would rather Youngs came on late in the game than Dickson, so I am happy with this.

    2. Farrell’s “Lions form” has been showing quite a bit for Sarries so far this season. If he gets good ball I expect him to be trying to get the ball out quicker to the wingers and get them in the game. Expect him and Twelvetrees to swap positions quite a bit as well.

    3. I actually think that there is a decent amount of flair in the team. Dickson may not have the flair of Youngs but has been doing the basics very well, and that should allow the flair outside him to operate. Farrell has been showing the Lions form this year (thank you Gats!). 12T and Yarde are flair players. Not sure about Tomkins – just don’t really know how he will operate, but even if he is a bludgeon, this means the centre partnership will have balance with the 12T rapier (ish). Ashton has rediscovered form, but Brown will run up blind alleys. He will beat defenders but this won’t benefit the team. My bet is we will lose the ball at least twice during the game when he runs it back. I hope to be proved wrong!

  10. Good to see Yarde in, would of liked to have seen Wade make the bench though. I wonder what it will take for Ashton to be dropped Treason, Grand Larceny?

  11. I also bet that Lawes gives away at least 1 penalty and clumsily fumbles, kicks, or knocks the ball out of England possession at some stage (probably from the back of a ruck….)

    1. Thanks Liam – just brightened my day by reminding me of Lawes involvement in that Scott Williams try at Twickenham.

  12. I actually think Ashton deserves his place on the wing, he has been in good form and brings experience also. I think he will benefit from brown at 15 as his hard running will allow Ashton to run lines off him – Goodes erratic running at FB didn’t allow the wingers to run support lines and I think this made Ashton look worse.

    Looking forward to seeing launchbury and lawes – is this the future?

  13. Mako V is 286lbs, not 266lbs.

    Also, I was surprised to see that Lawes was so light (in comparison). He seems to me to have put on bulk this season.

    If you Google his weight, you will see it at 260 lbs. His own website notes him as 18st1lb. A darn site heavier than the figures on the RFU site.

    Given that Launchbury is also a young pup, I suspect that he has also bulked up a bit, so I would expect their size to be somewhat bigger than thos noted above.

    This is not the competition of course as Corbisiero is lighter (in relative terms) than Mako. Billy V of course has shed almost 50lbs to become more powerful.

    Point is that England are not lightweight, and I suspect that if these 5 pack down at the World Cup they will be heavier still as they are all young.

    1. I took everything off the ESPN stats guru, no idea how accurate they are or how frequently they are updated. Vunipola, be it at 286 or 266, is the only guy you would consider ‘large’ for his position in modern day international rugby. The others are all on the smaller side of average. Individually this doesn’t really matter, none of them are too small for international rugby, but collectively it adds up. All of the tight 5 are more renowned for what they do out of the scrum than in it, so I just worry we haven’t got the balance quite right.

      Hopefully we’ll be fine, we’ll get a good examination over the next 3 weeks, we do have some serious units on the bench if needed as well. If we do go well in the tight it will be awesome, as I don’t think there is a more athletic and mobile tight 5 around.

  14. Disappointed to see Foden isn’t starting and I really do wish that Lancaster would replace Flood with a more audacious fly half like Ford or Burns for instance. Other than that though I think the team looks good!

    1. Steve, I am a big fan of both Burns and Ford, but I am not sure either of them are really in the best of form at the moment.

      Flood is a decent international player, he is not a world beater, but he is very good to have on the bench, and he has experience. He probably suffers, like several others for what he is not, rather than the sort of player he is.

      I would suggest also that he threatens the line more than Farrell – although if we see the Lions Farrell – I (hopefully) will revise that assessment.

      1. I agree. As a Bath fan I’m obviously going to back Ford, but the problem is he blows hot and cold. When he’s good, he’s very good, bosses a game and usually ends up with man of the match. When he’s bad, however, you get a situation like against Gloucester – 4 missed kicks, a missed penalty kick to touch, and kicking the ball dead twice from his half.

        I think he is the future for England, but needs a season or two of regular game time first. Hopefully we can get him some big games (e.g. knockouts in the Amlin, LV=, or even the Prem!) to give him some vital experience under pressure.

  15. Overall the team selection was as expected.There are concerns over front five ‘oomph’,but my worry is that Brown or Ashton score a couple of fortuitous tries that convince all the wrong people that they are genuine internationals.Also,isn’t it time we stopped referring to Cole’s work at the breakdown over his job up front.Time to give Wilson a proper go I reckon….Can’t wait for the game.

  16. Completely agree on the Front five issue. I have mixed feelings.

    I like all the players ho have been picked in the pack but the front five seems light. I would like us to develop an alternative to Cole but he has experience with him, a rare commodity in this team.

    If the scrum wobbles against the Aussies then I would definitely consider picking Wilson an Hartley maybe even Webber,

    But all this talk about the scrum has overshadowed the lineout. There are far more lineouts in a match than scrums. During the last few years our lineout has been based around Parling, and croft both of which are out, Youngs throwing can be off. If we run into trouble there we will be really up against it.

    The backs look really exciting, agree on Brown he is very steady but isn`t going to win us a world cup. Foden is a better player, more dangerous, faster, as good in defence and under the high ball. The only advantage Brown has is his kicking.

    I am glad Ashton is in the team, he is plying well again for Sarries, he is a great player on his day and again the experience factor.

    This is an uncapped team, especially in the backs. This is exciting but the fact remains that every team that has won the world cup has had an average of 40 caps per player. This England team won`t have that many, but we need some guys with some experience.

  17. Personally, I think that on his day Brown is actually a better fullback than Foden.

    Although Foden is in form and played well last week for Northampton against Saracens, he still lacks some of the guile that Brown brings to the England team. Brown is underestimated as a leader on the field, and he does do the basics really well. His kicking out of hand is good, and he is a stronger player. I also think that there is little difference in pace between the two.

    It is great for England that we have these two fullbacks, but for me there is an edge and a field presence with Brown that Foden lacks. He is a better competitor, and that is what England need to beat the best in the world.

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