England team to face France this weekend

We’ve had advanced word from Pennyhill Park that there are six changes to the England team to play France this weekend.

Delon Armitage and Ugo Monye were released back to their clubs, making way for Ben Foden to claim his first Test start in the full-back jersey, and for Chris Ashton to finally get the place he deserves.

Mike Tindall comes in for Mathew Tait, Toby Flood replaces Jonny Wilkinson, Simon Shaw returns to oust Louis Deacon and Lewis Moody comes in for James Haskell, with Joe Worsley switching to the blindside.

England Team

15 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
14 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
13 Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby)
12 Riki Flutey (CA Brive)
11 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
10 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
9 Danny Care (Harlequins)
1 Tim Payne (London Wasps)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4 Simon Shaw (London Wasps)
5 Steve Borthwick (Saracens, captain)
6 Joe Worsley (London Wasps)
7 Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers)
8 Nick Easter (Harlequins)


16 Steve Thompson (CA Brive)
17 David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
18 Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers
19 James Haskell (Stade Francais)
20 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
21 Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon)
22 Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks)

30 thoughts on “England team to face France this weekend

  1. Much better backline, far more balanced. Shame it’s taken 5 games to see it.

    Maybe Hartley will surprise us and put in a half decent performance for once.

    Haskell deserved to be dropped. One great game every 5 matches does not a quality international make.

  2. It’s funny isn’t it…as delighted as I am to see these changes that we’ve all been harping on about since Round 1, it’s still annoying that it’s too little too late.

    At least it does put a little bit of interest back into the game on Saturday. Let’s hope Foden and Ashton get some ball.

    Would have liked to see Dowson in there…the forwards are still uninspiring and it could be the same old story with no quick ball and the backs looking hopeless without it.

  3. Don’t think Dowson has trained with the squad this season? Mind you that’s probably a good thing.

    I read a stat the other day that said so far England had won only 5 turnovers all competition, compared to 33 this time last year. Combine that with the most horribly slow scrappy ball known to man and as you say Hutch it’s no wonder the backs have looked clueless.

  4. Official stats said that we didn’t win a single turnover against Scotland, which might have something to do with Moody’s recall.

    What are people’s thoughts on Tindall’s return?

  5. Bit harsh on Tait and Tindall’s inclusion has ‘temporary fix’ written all over it. Not sure that trying to counter the French midfield with our own battering ram, is the way to go. Hasn’t Johnno learnt from the Erinle experiment? Care should have been dropped but think MJ would have a heart attack if he made any more changes

  6. If we’d had this line up from the first game I’m pretty sure we would be heading into this last match with a shot at the Gland Slam!

    I like Tindall being in the team he isn’t the most dynamic by any means but is a good solid base for other people to work off.

    Step one of my plan has come to fruition step 2 France to do what they do best as favourites and England to do what they do best when completely written off (RWC 2007 QF) I still unbelievably have faith!

  7. I don’t think it is harsh on Tait actually. He does have a lot of promise, but he’s got about 40 caps now, so that is more than enough of an opportunity to deliver.

  8. Chuffed Tindall is back. I’ve long been a fan of Tait but in 40 internationals he has still only done about 5 things of note in an England shirt. We’ve talked about his potential for years but he just has not delivered. Granted the way England play hasn’t helped but in 4 internationals you’d expect a top player to get involved and go looking for action. Tindall will provide a focal point and some shape to the team. Delighted Foden and Ashton are in but still think our pack is pretty uninspiring.

    Not too many complaints overall but my ears are ringing from the sound of a stable door slamming shut as I sit here watching the horse frolicking freely in the meadow.

  9. Very happy with this team, although like others worried about the backrow. As you say Hutch, Moody surely has been brought in because of concern over lack of turnovers but it is hard to pinpoint what Easter has actually contributed this tournament, at his best he does a job but just hasn’t the last 4 games. Would have liked to see Steffon Armitage in the team (as I keep harping on about!) but apart from the backrow the team looks good.

    Disagree with you Hutch concerning Tait, whilst he hasn’t really performed can you say any of the backs have? Tindall does a job but is not a long term solution and I think having Tait in there would have been better long term, don’t forget he is only 24. I do agree he has had 40 odd caps but most of those were off the bench and he has played all over the place so think a number nearer 15-20 is fairer on him.

    Might even stay up now to watch this game!

  10. The only massive disappointment for me is that Courtney Lawes has been packed off back to Northampton and dull Louis Deacon stays. The inclusion of 58-year old Simon show isn’t exactly looking to the future and neither is bringing back Mike Tindall in my opinion.

    Still, I’m chuffed that Ashton has finally been given a chance. I’ve never been a fan of Ugo Monye – I mean, running fast in a straight line does not a top class international winger make.

    It will be good to see how Foden gets on. Some Saints fans have commented that he has so much freedom because Reihana covers for him a lot. I’ve not seen much of him this season so I don’t know if this is true. Either way, he brings an edge to the England backline that has been sorely missing in this competition.

    Also, I hope England will have sorted out their tackling for their trip to Paris. The number of tackles they fell off against Scotland had be shouting at the TV.

    Finally, I’m glad that Jimmy Haskell has been dropped to the bench. I agree with Patrick – one great performance in five is not good enough at that level.

  11. It’s worth remembering that Tindall played every game in the last six nations and we ended up as top try-scorers with 16. And that was with Flood most of the time and Flutey inside him. Will the forwards front up is the question!

    A hard running centre is what’s needed. We need a few more ball carriers to break the gain line. In fact, any would be a start.

    Good point about missed tackled Bamberio, didn’t cost us against Scotland but do that against France and they’ll rip us to pieces. In fact I think England are top of the pile for the number of missed tackles this season. Although Wales would run us close I reckon.

  12. The slowest pack ever selected by England?! Enough said I think.

    Backs are fairly well picked although I’d have kept Jonny to play in the country he now plys his trade in. I just don’t think Flood is the answer.

  13. I would also have stuck with Jonny, and Lawes should be on the bench at least. I thought dropping Haskell was a good idea, but Kemlo’s point about keeping Jonny as a France-based player is relevant here too.

    Agree that the pack looks sluggish, and they’ll probably struggle against the French. And, Haskell aside, there’s not really anyone that Johnno can turn to to inject some momentum.

    Not too many complaints, and I’m now looking forward to the game more than I was on Sunday (not hard).

  14. perhaps controversially i would rather get rid of cueto – he can kick etc but my god is he lost all gas!
    hopefully jonno will have a look at Jon clarke @ northampton, rather ploddy tindall again.
    im a full back, so can someone tell me why Easter is in the team? surely dowson, ward smith are better in every area?
    our ball is slow because our back row lack a touch of gas so dont get to the break down.moody inclusion will help, but easter…….

  15. No-one in the backs has delivered anything of note in the entire tournament. Tait hasn’t been great but he’s not done a lot wrong and has played a key role in 2 out of our 5 tries (scoring one and setting up one). It’s time to move on from Tindall, if we want that type of player then at least go for a younger model – Hape, he might even create something

  16. Awfulll pack still. Although Shaw is better than Deacon. Much better. The rest is ok and more than I could have dreamt of! Lawes/Kennedy will not be the pack anyway under MJ.

    MJ did enough to change my mind and I will watch the game after all!

  17. Glad to see its taken a calamitous Autumn series and a poor 6 nations before Ashton and Foden get their starts, Poor selection in the forwards, we need to look at out second row and replace Borthwack and Shaw, and our back row is there to mix it up and nullify the French. Unsure

  18. A step in the right direction. But if Johnno can see that Haskell and Jonny were not performing, what about Deacon, Easter, Care and of course Borthwick? Part of me feels like this is Johnno getting desperate and bowing to public pressure. Just wish he’d listened (and read this blog) more carefully. I would have Lawes, Kennedy, Hodgson and Dowson in there. Seems like most on here think it’s a fine balance between the 9’s, but I would have Hodgson in with Youngs on the bench.

    How’s Tindall been playing lately all you Gloucester boys? Haven’t seen him play for a while. I think this one is a little tough on the boy Tait. It’s so hard to judge this backline when they get mostly crap ball and don’t have the freedom to do what they want with it. Tindall is generally more likely to put the tackles in, but the French are more likely to run rings round him.

    Watching England is like watching 24 at the moment. After every episode I say that’s it, I’m not wasting my time with this b******s any more, I’m done. But then when it comes around again, I feel obliged to give it one more go.

  19. Uncle Mat, couldn’t agree more, though I’d be a little more sympathetic to Care.

    He’s been in a quins side which, though struggling more this year with injuries and non-injuries, has had a firing backline for a couple of years now with exciting free-running backs and fairly average forwards (especially without Easter and since the departure of Mike Ross). It seems to me Johnno and the coaching team are selecting a running/sniping/kicking scrumhalf then telling him to not play like he normally does. So I say its more about picking the right guy for the role they want or creating the right role for the guy they want.

    Agree with the Tindall assessment completely. That Andreou chap may make him look even more lumbering than he actually is.

    The back row, as ever since Richard Hill’s knee gave up the ghost, looks unbalanced, defensive and slow. Easter is good at creating opportunities for others to run off him at club level, but seems unsuited to the style England play under Johsnon and the pace of the international game. How about this for a forward looking trio? 6.Robshaw, 7.S. Armitage, 8.Dowson.

  20. spot on with uncle mat and ian, except with care.
    its funny how some people dont make the step up to international standard.

    care just hasnt. 2 steps then pass……too slow. questionable temprement under pressure, not bright enought for the positition i think.

    Youngs is the future.

    i like dowson and robshaw – the latter that bit more mobile than haskell.
    also ben woods at leicester looks good.
    can someone tell me what happened to dan ward-smith at wasps? real ball playing athlete.

  21. Its good to see Foden and Ashton in the team and a start for Flood, but Tindall for Tait, is just another step backwards.

  22. Albeit due to public pressure, the changes for England are hugely positive. Of course there are other changes that may have happened, but this is more than a start. Tindall for Tait is very sensible given the power of both Bastareud and Jauzion in the centres for France. It is not a step backwards at all, as Tait has been given some time to prove himself now and not done it. If Tindall’s inclusion means that more exciting lightweight players like Ashton and Foden can be included around him, then that is definitely a good thing.

  23. All in all, this team isn’t too bad – on paper. Sorry to see Tait dropped to the bench though i do think the inclusion of someone more heavyweight to counter Bastareaud is a good idea. Why have Payne, Easter, Worsley and Borthwick retain their places? And how the hell is Deacon yet again on the bench? Where are Lawes of Kennedy MJ? Why do you dislike them so much? Having lost the tournament now, i would much rather have seen this as a pure experiment game with the likes of the following being given a chance:

    1. Mullen
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Lawes
    5. Kennedy
    6. Fourie
    7. Moody
    8. Dowson
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood
    11. Ashton
    12. Flutey
    13. Hape
    14. Cueto
    15. Foden

    16. Wilson
    17. Mears
    18. Shaw
    19. Armitage/Haskell
    20. Care/Hodgson
    21. Wilkinson
    22. Tait

  24. Tommy,

    Wow, good squad. I will go with those ones although Mullen would not be my fav here. But the 4 til 8 is a smashing lineup. Fourie/Moody and Dowson, what an enegry these guys will brinjg to the table. Together with the best 2n row you can imagine. Kennedy and Lawes. This looks fantastic with Steffon Armitage joining after 40 minutes for Moody or Fourie. I will go with this squad and I would add Simpson-Daniel to the bench as well to have a killer on the bench as well.

  25. Like the squad a lot Tommy. I agree with every selection apart from Moody – would have Steffan Armitage in there. But it’s a really tight call. And Proppie you make a good shout with Simpson-Daniel on the bench. England has a lot of talent there, we just need MJ to start nurturing it!

  26. Mullen wouldn’t be my first choice either, but with Sheridan out, I’m unsure who else could fill the slot? Love the idea of JSD in the team, but couldn’t find room for him unfortunately – would also love to include Turner-Hall and Croft, but again, i couldn’t find room for them.

    In a strange way though i almost hope none of these players play for England, as everyone that does, seems to lose their talent.

    Saturdays team has damage limitation written all over it, and in a way I hope the french stuff us good and proper, just to prove a point!

    Also, i have a new theory on the MJ scenerio not including the best players we have to offer – could it be that certain players disagree with the way things are done (i.e coaching/management/game plan etc etc) and openly voice these concerns? If so, it may explain the exclusion of the likes of players like Cip, Kennedy, Lawes etc etc. Lets face it, even Josh Lewsey last year (i think) openly voiced his concerns and about about 2 wks later announced his retirement. Coincidence?

  27. Nice to see Johnno protecting his young stars so well, i.e, telling them their not good enough for several months and then throwing them in against France in Paris, chuffin norra.

    Wouldn’t Italy or scotland or wales been a better time to experiment with Foden and Ashton he is proving himslef to be reactionary instead of visionary.

    I do like the backline but it is a team built to tackle, damage limitation. We are still not seeing Lawes, Mullen, S Armitage and Dowson, some young legs to get the pack moving, thank god haskell is gone I have never seen such a useless piece of meat, and we are talking a lot of meat.

    At least Worsley and Moody will battle all day, their going to have to.

  28. Ronbraz, you’re completely right in everything you said. Johnson may have finally made changes, but it is completely reactionary and shows no class or vision. To throw these players in for France away makes a mockery of him not thinking they could cope with the other six nations games. It just proves that he’s either done it to appease the public or because he’s realised he should have made changes a long time ago! I agree there are many others that should be in too. I don’t think he’ll ever see it that way though.

  29. Borthwick out Deacon in, one useless player for another so we haven’t lost anything their then, lineout should be funny though.

    BUT, where in the hell did Palmer come from, nothing against the chap I think he is under rated but he hasn’t been involved at all and I thought they were develpoing Lawes for a place in the starting 15 now he ain’t even on the bench.

    What has he done wrong to deserve this?


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