RBS Six Nations 2012: England name team to play France in Paris

UPDATE: David Strettle has been forced to withdraw from Sunday’s match due to a sternum injury. He has been replaced by Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples, who wins his 2nd cap.

Stuart Lancaster has named the same starting XV that faced Wales a fortnight ago at Twickenham to play France. The only changes come on the bench, where Tom Palmer replaces the injured Courtney Lawes and Charlie Hodgson wears 21 instead of Toby Flood.


15. Ben Foden, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Brad Barritt, 11. Charlie Sharples, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Lee Dickson, 1. Alex Corbisiero, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Mouritz Botha, 5. Geoff Parling, 6. Tom Croft, 7. Chris Robshaw (c), 8. Ben Morgan


16. Rob Webber, 17. Matt Stevens, 18. Tom Palmer, 19. Phil Dowson, 20. Ben Youngs, 21. Charlie Hodgson, 22. Mike Brown

14 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: England name team to play France in Paris

  1. Guessing Tom Wood isn’t up to match fitness yet then? Biggest difference between the England/French teams are the benchs, where France definitely have the edge

    1. Yes, and if SL persists with making wholesale changes at around the hour mark, that edge will be exposed. What’s worrying is that England have seemed to lack match fitness. Every player should be fit enough to be going hard for 80 minutes, and allow the bench to be used for tactical changes. Also, SL has taken off players like Corbs and Dickson – despite them having pretty good games – and I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on the effect on the team of replacing with Stevens and Youngs.

      On reflection, the fact that this is my main whinge about SL’s management says how bloody good a job he is doing generally. So far he seems to be learning from his mistakes, so let’s hope we see a different approach to replacements this week.

  2. Anyone want to run a book on how many and quickly Stevens will get pinged? Disappointed with the bench, but not surprised.

    1. With Beauxis fluffing his drop goals last week, the French have been spotted in training practicing how to make a deliberate knock on look accidental for a gauranteed 3 point scrum when he comes on.

  3. Not many surprises here really.

    I think Flood still needs to find himself again before playing for England. Although he played much better for Leicester last week, I still don’t think he’s back to the same level that Farrell and Hodgson are at yet. To be expected after just coming back from injury.

    If Dickson can get good ball from the pack, we could really shock France. Barritt and Tuilagi could provide some much needed go forward between them, and I expect Farrell will be looking to catch them off guard with some sneaky chips and grubbers for the back three to chase.

  4. Appropriate picture, Tuilagi smashing La Grenouille. With Rougerie seemingly struggling for form this looks to be the match up with biggest advantage to England. Looking forward to seeing Barritt tested against Fofana who certainly won’t be ploughing forward in a straight line, so a great examination of his defensive skills.

    Not happy about the bench selection nor our use of it thus far (replacing someone having a bad game isn’t good use of a bench)
    – Dowson and Stevens are fortunate to be on it. I didn’t watch the Sarries/Saints game if Stevens did play well then fair enough, but if he comes on for Corbs then he is up against Mas again who probably refers to him as Matt “Trois Pois” Stevens. Dowson has been evaluated, didn’t cut it, doesn’t bring any impact off the bench and is preventing us having a look at someone else.
    – Webber and Brown need to get off it and onto the pitch so they can have a proper test and be evaluated, if they step up like Botha then fantastic, otherwise get the next in line in. This is especially important at hooker where we only have 1 playing non-veteran with any international experience in a position we need 3. How critical were we all over Johnson’s selections for the world cup warm ups and not giving people game time to evaluate them? A token run out for Botha, not playing Robshaw, etc. The same is happening now.
    – Youngs either has his game and confidence back together and is our clear number 1 or he is still seeking it and needs to be with Tigers to get a run of games under his belt. At his best he is a far better player than Dixon so the bench spot sends the message “we aren’t sure you won’t get the yips again so you can’t start, however plans B, C and D can’t stay out of hospital or police stations so try not to look like a rabbit in the headlights if you do get on this time”

    We started the campaign by being bold and bringing in some new blood, some have really put their hands up, others have done OK but now seem to own the jersey at the expense of evaluating others. I was really p*ssed pre-Wales when Tuilagi was only on for a bench spot pre the Charlie-hurt-his-finger. Is it just me or are Lancaster’s selections becoming increasingly Freudian, posession being nine tenths and all that? I can see that will either have to take a lot of new blood to South Africa (tour from hell, the sequel) or head into the autumn internationals with too many unanswered questions on player potential.

    Anyway I would be far more underwhelmed if I was French with my stuttering world cup finalists. So, avoiding the biggest rugby cliche, if they play as they have been playing and we get something close to parity against that ferocious 8 man scrum then I fancy an England win.

    1. Your point about Dowson is fair, but I feel bad for him and I think he has the right to feel fairly hard done by. He has been played out of position by England – he’s not a natural 8, he’s a 6. Roger Wilson is the first choice 8 for Saints, and when he’s been injured this season, Samu Manoa has moved from the second row to play there rather than moving Dowson across. If Jim Mallinder doesn’t see Dowson as an 8 then I don’t see where England got the idea. Dowson is an excellent traditional 6, something England have lacked.

      People talk about the necessity of a proper openside, but a proper blindside is just as important and Croft is somewhat of a ‘luxury’ – he runs around a lot and jumps in the lineout but doesn’t do the dirty work he should of getting in and cleaning out the rucks, and being a defensive lynchpin. Croft’s habit of hanging back from contact means that Robshaw has to accommodate and isn’t able to play the role of the openside. Ideally we would have had a back row of Wood at 7, Robshaw at 6 and Morgan at 8. But with Wood out, it should have been be Dowson at 6, Robshaw at 7, and Morgan at 8 from the start, to give the back row a bit more balance.

      1. I would agree with you there. Would like to see a back row of Dowson, Robshaw and Moragn with Croft on the bench. I think it would get us going forward more as well. The one thing Croft brings which Dowson doesn’t really do, is the extra line out jumper. And Croft is very good in the line out. If England could utilise Robshaw as the extra jumper, maybe Dowson could start at 6.

      2. Good point, I should have put him in the same category as Webber/Brown. He is also towards the top of my list of players unfortunate not to get an opportunity under the last regime, though I’m not sure his club form has been as imperious this season.

      3. Trudat. Back row should be Dowson 6, Robshaw 7 and Morgan 8. Croft on the bench. Dowson is unlikely to have a bad game at 6, whereas Croft seems to go completely missing at times.

    2. Matt annoyingly Stevens had a pretty decent game when he came on (that coming from a Sarries supporter)

      1. You’re right Ben he did ok. Just a shame the referee’s assistant hadn’t bought his glasses with him. Did you see that ridiculous penalty where he claimed Stevens wasn’t binding? It was right in front of me, and Stevens got his bind on, but Tiny couldn’t get his, his hand hits the floor, pulling Stevens grip loose, and somehow Saints get a penalty.

        Anyway as a fellow Sarries supporter, I have been frustrated with Stevens since the World Cup. Just hasn’t really been himself. Gill and Smit on the other hand have been great.

      2. I have huge admiration for those that come back stronger after mistakes/adversity. I hope he has a good game, but this has to be last chance.

  5. Strettle is out, Sharples starts. Could be a blessing in disguise we have missed having some blistering pace in the back three since Monye.

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