England team to face Scotland in RBS Six Nations 2012

Stuart Lancaster has named his first England side since becoming interim coach against Scotland this weekend in the Calcutta Cup. Eight new players are involved in the match-day 22, with Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt starting in the centres and Phil Dowson making a first start at number 8.

Dowson wins his first cap at 31, one of only four players in the team over 30 including Charlie Hodgson and Tom Palmer. Joe Marler and Charlie Sharples will travel with the squad as reserves.


15. Ben Foden, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Brad Barritt, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. David Strettle, 10. Charlie Hodgson, 9. Ben Youngs, 1. Alex Corbisiero, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Mouritz Botha, 5. Tom Palmer, 6. Tom Croft, 7. Chris Robshaw, 8. Phil Dowson.


16. Rob Webber, 17. Matt Stevens, 18. Geoff Parling, 19. Ben Morgan, 20. Lee Dickson, 21. Jordan Turner-Hall, 22. Mike Brown

49 thoughts on “England team to face Scotland in RBS Six Nations 2012


  2. Would have started Morgan and had Dowson on the bench but otherwise good. Like the fact with fly-half cover on the pitch we can get Turner-Hall and Brown on the bench. Still think we may lose but for once performance and intent is as important as winning.

  3. Still not convinced that Barrit can do anything other than run in a straight line at people. JTH is the same. Do we not have any centres who can pass the ball?
    Pressure on Hodgson, but hopefully his Saracens form continues and he puts us in the right areas.
    Sharples unlucky not to start, I would prefer him over Strettle.
    Forwards look good, no real weak links.
    Hopefully Dickson gets on and increases the tempo at 60 minutes to finish off Scotland.

  4. Disappointed that Marler and Sharples aren’t in the 22. Thought Sharples would have been starting! Not to even be in the 22 is an odd choice but guess with Foden & Brown they can cover the back 3.

    Fairly happy with the rest but for the first time in a long time feel that Scotland have a real shot of beating us which would be massive in terms of any title hopes!

    With Wood, Flood & Manu back and the team gelling more they’ve got potential oozing all over the place!

    1. Don’t forget we have Lawes to return as well, and if Palmer and Botha have good games, we suddenly have some strength here for once…

  5. Pretty much as expected. There may be the odd discussion over a pint as to who should be in and who shouldn’t but on the whole probably the best team we could hope for. The real discussion will start after the game when we know who steps up to the mark and who falters!

    Beginning to feel excited and vaguely optimistic. Worringly this comes about 45 minutes after posting that I had no expectations for this six nations and that was a good thing. Am becoming concerned about my mental state!! Six nations fever has arrived!!

    1. Don’t worry Staggy, I get exactly the same before every game. Gloss over the glaring weaknesses and focus on the ‘potential’, get all excited and then ultimately sob into a beer glass after the game…

      This time will be different though, I’m sure.

  6. I reckon Dowson will offer a lot more than Morgan would. Not taking anything away from Morgan, he’s a great player but Dowson is a clever player to have on the pitch and gives 110% all the time

  7. At last we finally see a team take look like they can take English rugby forward. Amazing line up, however my only no no would be Ashton, I think he’s over rated. But nonetheless can’t wait for Saturday!

      1. just checked for Eng played 18 scored 15 for NS played 99 scored 88 and his league scoring record is simliar compare that with say Cueto and tell me he’s overated!

      2. Totally agree, arrogant and cocky, but definitely not overrated as a try scorer. Record says currently he’s the best finisher we’ve got. And he knows exactly where to be to score those tries.

  8. I’m glad to see my team prediction wasn’t too far off the mark. I think Strettle has edged out Sharples with experience as much as anything. One thing that worries me with Strettle is that his tackling is sometimes a little weak. But let’s face it, he’s better than Banahan or Cueto. Farrell at 12 with Barritt at 13, is an interesting one. But Barritt is very good at straightening the attack. Something our attack has struggled with in recent times.

    1. I’d also prefer Sharples over Strettle, but think you’re right in that Strettle’s experience has worked in his favour this time. Sharples is still young though so his time will come.

      As for the centres, they tend to switch between 12 and 13 for Sarries, so don’t think the numbering is too important.

  9. Given the players available I think selection on whole is the right one. My reservations are Farrell, Barritt & Turner-Hall as non seem to be dynamic, maybe club constraints have dictated how they play. Hope I am proved wrong!
    Interesting comments about Rolland & Owen my Anglo half felt that English teams in European Cup suffered at hands of the Celtic referees especially Northampton..

  10. ref’s from limerick:

    the referee’s name is george clancy
    i hope he’ll be what england fancy
    the odds i bet
    are for windy and wet
    leaving england supporters all angstie

    lots of optimism here, fuelled perhaps by the changes, but also by the fact that it’s been almost 4 months since any of us saw england under-perform on the international stage. just how awful we were isn’t quite as fresh in the memory…

    these are capable players but unproven at this level and unlikely to gel straight away. i just hope that the ‘lancaster must go’ brigade aren’t setting out their stall before we even leave for rome…

    1. Nice little ditty there. Maybe we’ll here that being sung from the stands?
      I could live with losing the game, just as long as we perform well, and play some good rugby. Something we haven’t done for some time.

  11. There have been a couple of mentions of being satisfied with a decent performance, even if England lose. It’s SCOTLAND!

    Italy apart, it’s only going to get harder from here this year, with Wales, Ireland, France, South Africa away 3 times and then four tough Autumn fixtures. If we can’t beat Scotland, what hope is there??

    A win at Murrayfield is essential.

    1. And yet we haven’t beaten them at murrayfield since 2004, so I think people are just being realistic. We seem to always get dragged into an arm wrestle with Scotland and dragged down to their level. I hope we show some ambition, especially as Parks has been chosen and will no doubt kick the ball back at every opportunity.

  12. No surprises, though would have rather have seen croft on the bench and morgan starting, but thats a minor quibble. Sharples must be wondering what he has to do, but then he does normally play 14, and ashton has that sewn up, where strettle is a natural 11 (i believe?). Quite looking forward to when all the squad is fit for selection to see who makes the starting 15 + bench.

    With who we have available, i do think this is probably the strongest team we can field and i am quite optimistic. Everyone keeps going on about a lack of experience, but yet it was the “experienced” players that have underperformed for so long in the white jersey and kept those that deserve their shot, out. Experience will only get you so far (in Englands case, slow tiresome, boring rugby), where ability, consistency and pride/passion should hopefully yield better performances and results.

    C’mon England

    1. Strettle normally plays 14 for Sarries, but played 11 a lot for Quins before that.

      Absolutely agree with your comments about the “experienced” players. The experience wasn’t shining through was it. Only a lack of passion, aggression and pride.

  13. Pretty pleased with this line-up. Hope they go well. Feeling very positive about this, but the pragmatist in me still has Scotland installed as slight favourites. If this England team really gels I reckon a big score is in order, otherwise SCO by <5…

    I reckon when Tom Wood comes back from injury he should take the blindside slot with Croft moving into second row instead of Botha – nothing against him but don’t see why we need to import Saffas when we’ve got plenty of second row options. The way rugby’s moving, I could imagine ultimately a second row unit of Croft and Lawes could be pretty desirable by the time RWC 2015 comes around. Mobile and athletic but still with a bit of grunt and menace about them.

    Really want to see Robshaw disprove all these slags who are saying he’s not an openside, can’t play there, being shoe-horned in for being a nice chap, etc and blah blah. I think the bloke’s class and versatile enough to pull it off. Fingers crossed.

    With all the change going on, an established 10-12-13 seems a wise move. Really hope we get 14+ points ahead of the sweaties by about 50-55 mins so they can bung Turner-Hall on (ie move Farrell to 10). Now’s the time to see the different options, but they’ll only be able to starting cocking about like that if they're well in the lead. (Imagine the “arrogant” accusations will be flying around mercilessly if they do that and it backfires!).

    1. I think the problem with Croft and Lawes in the line out, is that neither of them run the line out. That’s why Palmer is there. And your comment about importing Saffas when we’ve got plenty of second row options is interesting, when in the next sentence you suggest playing a flanker in the second row? Surely it would be better to play a lock, regardless of where he was born, if he qualifies and wants to wear the jersey, and is the best player we’ve got available in that position? Botha is a better lock than Croft, and that’s probably why he’s been selected. If Lawes was fit I’ve no doubt he would be starting alongside Palmer.

      1. Yeah, I spotted that glaring error after I’d posted my comment, then quietly hoped no-one else would notice!!

        But there are English blokes like Attwood, Skivington, Parling, Robson who I would like to see given a go. Maybe their time will come. And by the way, I like Botha and wish him all the best.

        I thought Croft did run the line-out for Leicester? I thought that was part of the reason people always bang on about how valuable he is to a team, because he offers so much in that area? I think Croft is a great player but with so much competition at 6, playing him at lock might be a good solution.

        *Caveat to all of the above*:
        Just in case it wasn’t abundantly clear already, I am a back – and not a particularly good one -so I’m no entirely sure why I started going on about where an elite forward should play. But, hey, at least I’m honest…

        1. You may be right about Croft at Leicester, but I know that usually it’s Palmer or Deacon’s job with the England squad of late. I know what you’re saying about the other English lock’s, but Botha has improved his all round game, and I think his natural Saffa aggression and competitiveness will work well for England.

  14. I like the look of the team, and it will only get better with the returning injured as the tournament goes on.

    I hope it finally clicks for Hodgson, as if it does he is a far far better attacking and tactical fly half than flood, who i have always thought of as a converted inside Center rather than an out and out 10. I think Hodgson, with Farrell outside him, can really bring the back 3 into play, which is where are real attacking strengths lye – mouthwatering to think of Tuilagi slotting in at outside center with these 2 inside him.

    The thing that most appeals to me is that this team, although low in caps, has plenty of players with good rugby brains who can think on their feet rather than only follow a gameplan.

    Strettle is a good choice on the wing, not as fast as Sharples, but with a very good heads up reading of the game, and excellent in defence – i think he adds to the back 3.

    As for the back row, whilst we can argue about the positions, Robshaw, Dowson and Croft is a great unit, all with good rugby brains, who aren’t just bing bang bosh merchants.

    For too long England have played with one dimension, by relying on players who stuck to the script – Test math rugby is all about how a team reacts when the script gets torn up by the opposition, and this is a team that fills me with hope that we can finally play heads up, smart rugby.

    1. Flood has been at 10 for every decent attacking performance England have had over the last 2-3 years. Look at how poor leaicester are going forward when they don’t have him. He always looks terrible when played at 12 (RWC vs France case in point)

      However I agree if Hodgson is given a good platform he could be a good attacking international 10. But i’d still take Flood ahead of him when fit.

      I’ve never seen anything of Farrel to suggest hes an especially gifted attacking player. He kicks well, thas about it.

      Strettle excellent in defence? We must have been watching different Strettles.

    2. Good comment abour rugby intelligence – it’s been sadly lacking in English teams recently and very underrated. Still getting excited (in a totally irrational, I’m going to be let down badly when it all goes wrong, and the weather and the ref and the gods are against us sort of way!!).

    3. I read a piece by Ben Foden on the Telegraph website the other day – can’t find the link at the moment, but it was VERY encouraging, from a “heads-up” rugby, rugby brains point of view.

      He was talking about how the training these last couple of weeks has been markedly different.

      To paraphrase: whereas before they’d spend a lot of time in meeting rooms with coaches writing/drawing stuff on whiteboards and drilling the specific gameplan into the players verbally, now they’re out on the training ground, talking through the moves, still getting direction from the coaches but working on the gameplan together, allowing it to develop organically.

      Said the players feel like they’ve got a clear structure in their minds but also have a sense of empowerment and freedom that they didn’t have previously.

      He also described how training sessions under the old regime were rigidly structured, something like 20mins attacking, 20mins defence, 20mins specific moves, 20mins doing exercises in units etc. Now they go out with a clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve and the practise until everyone’s got it. If they nail it straight away, they don’t keep on going through the same thing over and over allowing all the good work to turn stale and turgid.

      The new coaching set-up seems to reward creativity and endeavour; from what Foden wrote it really sounds like a fresh, positive environment. I really hope this all translates into awesomeness on the pitch.

      1. it all sounds great, but fear it could be a case of talking a good game… until 5pm on sat, then they have to walk the walk

    4. PS, my immature juvenile side can’t resist picking you up on this:
      “mouthwatering to think of Tuilagi slotting in with these 2 inside him.”

        1. Lol – i just dont rate Flood, i dont think he has another game awareness, and is a one trick pony, he is never going to grab a game by the scruff of the neck.

          He was poor at 12 in the RWC because he was put there last moment, he mostly played 12 till he moved to Leicester.

          The thing about Farrell is that he has the ability to see how to put the players around him into the right positions, he can see that little chip through into space for the back 3 to exploit, he can see the space opening up and how to put others into it – to be unimpressed by him is to think that to be good at rugby you need to be pulling off flash sidesteps and jinks all day long, Farrell is the key who can unlock the space for the players who do have that bit of magic to take advantage of.

          He also (to date) seems to be incredibly calm under pressure, something Flood is not

      1. I think eye-watering rather than mouthwatering. But yes my immature juvenile side is giggling away after reading this. Hee hee!!!

  15. i don’t understand every ones love with croft! i think he is too light to be a 6 not even to mention a second row, he’s good in the line out but doesn’t do any of the grunt work a 6 is suppose to! he was destroyed by ferris and the only reason he got to play a part as a lion in 09 was because ferris fecked his angle up! remember ferrises two tries for lions! but apart from that very strong english team …. worried for paddy’s day especially with earls at 13

    1. Yeh remember Ferris 2 tries for Lions against a provincial side? Remember Croft’s 2 against the springbocks?

      In all fairness tho you’re right in saying Ferris is a better proper conventional 6. Croft can be a great player as well (he was world class on the lions tour, and a few tests for England) his stregths are more in secondary covering tackles, support play, broken field and line out.

      Hes definitely not a second row tho.

      1. sorry nick i was meaning ferris’s tries where sixes work straight through the ruck and was on blistering form but for injury is the only reason croft got his chance. do think he hangs out on the wing too much and as fast as he is i’d prefer aston there.

    2. I’m with you on this Richard. Every time I see Croft loitering on the wing, I have a small grumble to myself. He reminds me a little of Chris Jones…

      I like a traditional blindside that you don’t see too much, but you just know is doing something very well…and is called Richard Hill.

      1. I would rather see Wood at blindside than Croft, just dont think on current form he in the team over a fit Wood

        1. Absolutely with you guys here. I would rather have seen Dowson at six and Morgan at eight, but his experience at this level in a new team definitely works to his advantage. Ad hopefully Lancaster has sorted this out. Maybe at some point they will bring Morgan on and move Dowson to six?

  16. latest weather (met office) – 4 degrees, gusts to 31mph, double-rain symbol… very much par for the course up there when england visit

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