RBS Six Nations 2012: England name team to play Ireland

Stuart Lancaster has made two changes to play Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, in what could be his final match in charge. David Strettle is passed fit so Charlie Sharples drops out of the 22, whilst Lee Mears comes onto the bench for Rob Webber.


15. Ben Foden, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Brad Barritt, 11. David Strettle, 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. Lee Mears, 17. Matt Stevens, 18. Tom Palmer, 19. Phil Dowson, 20. Ben Youngs, 21. Charlie Hodgson, 22. Mike Brown

58 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: England name team to play Ireland

  1. Pretty much what was expected but would have liked to have seen Charlie Sharples replace Chris Ashton. I know the arguments are there about Ashton being very deadly when he on form, but at the moment he isn’t living up to his billing.

    Has Lee Mears played Blindside before?

    1. Haha, I was wincing seeing Webber packing down at 6 on Sunday. I’m not sure he’s an international standard hooker, let alone flanker!

      It would have been a bold call from Lancaster to drop Ashton for the last game of the tournament. It’s a shame to see Sharples drop out, but I’m sure he’ll get other chances.

  2. I’m not sure whether I would have gone for Sharples or Strettle myself. Strettle’s defence may be slightly more capable of stopping the gigantic Welsh wingers, but Sharples pace, allied to intelligent kicking from Farrell, may have been able to turn them and keep them under pressure. Not an easy choice to make.

    Has Webber picked up a knock, or is he paying the ultimate price for not being International class in a position he has never played in?

    Any knocks that we know about in the 22?

    1. Given we’re playing Ireland, not Wales, Lancaster is probably not very concerned about gigantic Welsh wingers

      Trimble and Bowe are much more normal sized, unlike the freakish Welsh behemoths

        1. There’s always someone who tries to be clever

          Together Bowe and Trimble give away about 6 inches and almost three stone to Cuthbert and North

          A bit of difference there

  3. How is it unchanged when they have brought Strettle back in and dropped Sharples??? That’s not unchanged to me!

  4. Strettle was named last week ahead of Sharples, but replaced last minute by Sharples due to injury – hence the unnamed team. If we show the same commitment and pride that we did last weekend, and carry that on for 80mins, i really do think we’ll win this. Just hoping that wasn’t a “one off” – though i doubt it, as SL seems to have done wonders restoring that ethos back into the team

  5. That’s kind, Tommy, but I think it was a typo (or second guessing Lancaster before the announcement).

    I’m feeling quite confident about England’s chances. The sides are quite evenly matched in most places, but we seem to have the upper hand in the centres…when was the last time we could say that?! Some time before the Tindall-Noon partnership would be my guess.

    It’s a big game for Ashton – the Irish think he’s a joke and he’ll be keen to prove himself.

    1. For the centre question, didn’t we play Flood-Noon in 2008 with Danny Cipriani (who slept with a man) playing FH? I believe BOD was also injured then so you could argue there was a slight English advantage maybe.

      1. I’m not a massive fan of Cipriani I must say, however I fail to see what relevance it has to his (or indeed anyones) rugby ability which gender they choose to sleep with.

  6. Same as last week for me, if we go toe to toe with the Irish forwards, i think we’ll win – but if we let the likes of Ferris and O’brien run riot, we could be in for a long 80 mins. Also need to get at Sexton early on. Anyone got bets on Tuilagi running over Earls?

    1. Going after the opposition 10 seems to be a favored SL tactic. Will be very key to this game.

  7. Tuilagi is just going to love running at D’arcy and Earls because neither of them are good tacklers. If we can get through them and create space behind then I can see some tries being scored. And O’brien and Ferris have to get past Barritt the tackling machine. Lancasters tactic of sticking Croft out in the centres and letting Barritt cover his tackling duties saw Croft sneaking through the French defence. I expect we may see more of that this Saturday as well. Come on England!!!

    1. So optimistic Dazza! That all sounds brilliant as long as we can stop the Irish from obliterating us at the break down like they so often do.

        1. I meant more in the sense of flooding the rucks when we don’t commit enough men. The kind of aggressive rucking that doen’t require a 7 just brute force. Like Ireland did to Aus in the RWC.

    2. Both D’arcy and Ealrs were poor when then stood back as they did against Wales, they have been totally different since then, especially against France where they stopped Fofana and Rougerie dead. The issue for England is whether they can put Manu into space to run. He is a devastating broken field runner, as he proved in his try against France, but much easier to stop if you get him early before he gets moving. It’s all about the ball he gets……….

      The game will be decided up front yet again

  8. Going to be close. Two teams in fairly good form. Pity it isn’t in Dublin – we’re better away from home! Can’t really understand the Irish players mouthing off about England – and they call us arrogant! Good motivation for our players though! Hopefully Ashton will do some supporting through the centre as that could be where we make inroads, although knowing the Irish, they will have thought of that and put a plan into place. However hope we can move around their big back row and tire them out. They definitely slowed down against France due to the pace of the game.

  9. Cips was nailing Kelly Brook so he’s a hero in my eyes! Ha ha. On the rugby front I think this could possibly be the game of the Six Nations so far if both sides look to play rugby. It’s fascinating how had a better refereeing decision in the Wales Ireland match been made and had the officials not missed the knock on in the England Wales game this could have been a straight shoot out for the title! Shows how small the margins are at the top. (not having a go at the officials there btw). It’s great to see how the Ireland boys have come out saying England is always the team to beat. I think only when England fully understand everyone wants to beat them more than anyone else and use that to their advantage will we get to the pinnacle again. I’m still not quite sure we understand it at the moment!

    1. Spot on about the small margins (just ask me about the World Cup ) there does seem to be a point in team development though where small losses turn into small wins if you are going in the right direction .

      I fancy England for this one at home though though it would be a strange season if it was the other way round with all away wins .Hopefully by the time I sit down to watch I’ll be wearing a rather beery Grand Slam grin and I can relax and enjoy.

  10. Don’t like the look of the bench, let’s hope there are no injuries. For me Sharples should have the bench spot a much better impact player. Brown is either a starter or not in the 22 IMO.

  11. Think Mears inclusion on bench gives us a bit more of an impact option, seems to in great form for Bath of late.

    If you had to pick a combined from the 2 teams would you have more Irish or English?

    I would have
    1 Healey
    2 Best
    3 Cole
    4 Botha
    5 Parling
    6 Ferris
    7 Robshaw (on form not prior heights)
    8 Morgan
    9 Reddan
    10 Sexton
    11 Trimble
    12 Barritt
    13 Tuilagi
    14 Bowe
    15 Kearney

    Ireland 8 England 7 in my paper fantasy team.

    1. How many English would you (at present) see in the Lions 15 if the Team was being picked tomorrow – or is that for another time

      1. Manu maybe, thats it. We will know a little more after Saturday and that might change a few picks.

        Best / Hartley or Croft / Ferris or Sexton / Farrell or Foden / Kearney.

        I would say all of them go to the Irish players at the moment, but that could change starting on Saturday

        1. Agree Ed. And if this team stays together and is well coached for the next few years, there is potential for several more.

          The fact that we would probably only have one English player right now is also testament to the strength of the other home unions. Holy cow, would be a better Lions team than for many years. Hard to see Aus or the boks troubling them, and they would probably do the AB’s also.

          1. The one on one match ups will make for fascinating match on Saturday and both Ireland and England will be up for it.

            England can win the 6N title for a second year in a row as I think France will kill Wales on a big rebound. Ferris and Kearney are making noises about winning that have ensured that Saturday will have an edge, all good really……..

          2. I can’t find a strong argument for any other than Manu either, if BOD recovers and Davies for competition he is no racing cert either. 12 months ago I would have had Ferris and O’Brien as the first names on my team sheet, picking now neither would start, hopefully a lot more will change in the next 12.

          3. I think the big advantage this lions side will have over the last one is a genuine 7.

            For me if you picked the lions side now it would be Ferris as a dead cert at six. Who would you pick now Matt?

          4. Shall I take the Ferrari or the Aston out today? Lydiate Vs Ferris is a great choice to have to make. I would have to shade it to Lydiate at the moment for reason that Welsh backrow kept their Irish counterparts relatively quiet in Dublin.

  12. Ed, not sure what your taking to even contemplate England can win the Championship, best bit of arrogance i have heard to date. You are allowed your views though, would like to to hear how you think this will happen.

    1. Adam Jones gets injured, Warburton gets sent off, France get a good win, England have a good day, Ireland have a bad one.

      I wouldn’t put any money on it but stranger things have happened …..

    2. No, you are right. England are very unlikely to win it, but I do think that France have a fair shot at Wales, given that they cannot be that bad a third time. I think Wales have had a bit of luck against Ireland and particularly England, so I can see France giving them a game. Can France win it by 10 points or a little more?

      I think that Ireland will win on Saturday, but consistency has been Ireland’s big issue and the rise of England maybe no flash in the pan. The Munster H-Cup ‘miracle match’ against Gloucester where they won by 27 points did happen. England has to believe and take it from there.

      1. I think you need to look at the stats with the Wales / England game – don’t think luck comes into it. Wales have won their games on merit. You can argue all day if this had happened and if only England had ground that try, if France had dropped that goal and if priestland was not sinned binned etc etc but they didn’t and Wales have won 4-4 and have deserved to be going for the Grand Slam and rightly so.

        1. Yeah, but France v Ireland, England v Wales, France v England and Ireland v Wales were all one score games at the death, Wales deserve to be going for a slam (no doubt and have carried themselves best since the World Cup), but should not expect it to be anything other than tight against France.

          1. I think it will be very tight game with no more then 10 points, which will come down to the last 10 minutes. Being a Welsh fan i am used to the hope of being the under dog and am under no illusion that Wales are no more then a good side at present with potential to being a quality side as i expect England also to be. Wales have stuttered over the last few weeks and key players are not performing, i just hope on Saturday they peak. All three games will be intriguing and can only be good for Northern Hemisphere rugby

    3. It shows how far Welsh Rugby has come when supporters no longer recognise hope and optimism over logic and reason. Being an optimistic underdog doesn’t make you arrogant.

      Being a rugby fan as well as an England fan, I will be supporting Wales for the grand slam.

      1. The stuff that Ferris and Kearney came out with was a mild wind up, nothing more, arrogance is expressed after a match (apart from the Australians!), not before it

  13. I agree with amathus, it seems really unlikely that england will catch up with wales on points difference.

  14. Also Matt,Ireland get penalised for constantly slowing it down in the most cynical fashion.Oops,I suppose that’s arrogance..

    1. I think most Teams play the referee, look at the players constantly off side – and thats every Team

    2. I dont get this Irish cynical thing, that’s how you supposed to defend at a ruck. Teams always whinge when another one slows the breakdown.

  15. I’m going to lose hope in fans being able to analyse a game if I hear the words arrogance and English in a nother comment. It’s getting a tad pathetic now. Can’t everyone be proud of their team and say what they like without someone putting a stereotype on them? Anyway…this website is for debate, not petty snipes, so lets debate.

    I can’t wait to see Ferris’ power going against Croft’s athleticism. The whole backrow battle looks set to be excellent, I’d say its even except Morgan shades it on Heaslip going off performance in the last few games.
    Maybe seeing Tommy Bowe in full flight may inspire the out of form Cashton, that would be an excellent match-up and for any Lions fans out there, I can’t see anyone but Bowe wearing that shirt for the tour.
    perhaps the most exciting match-up will be Foden v Kearney, they’re both in excellent form and play similar rugby. Wouldn’t dare make a call on that one now.
    I think its very harsh on Sharples to drop him out the match day squad all together. Why keep Brown on the bench if you started Sharples in the last game?
    I’m thinking England will be on top in the set piece, but Ireland to be slowing lots of ball down at the breakdown.
    Now to just sit back and wait for Saturday. If it comes down to the kickers then England by 3. If not its anyones game.

    1. re: Sharples – at a guess i would say as Brown can cover wing or full-back, and Manu can cover wing if needs be, shifting Faz to centres and Hodgson to 10 whereas Sharples can only cover wing so isn’t the best bench option in terms of versatility.

  16. Very few English

    My Lions team tomorrow:
    1 – Jenkins
    2 – Ford
    3 – Jones
    4 – Grey
    5 – O’Connel
    6 – O’Brian
    7 – Warbutun
    8 – Denton
    9 – Phillips
    10 – Preistland
    11 – Bowe
    12 – Roberts
    13 – Tuillagi
    14 – North
    15 – Kearney

    There are few tight calls, Best instead of ford at 2 Lydiate, Croft, Ferris at 6, that is a competitive position. I like Charitis from the world cup, but hasn’t played lately. Barrit instead of manu if your going for defense. Healy and Cole at prop.

    There are loads of good players. Problem areas are 7, apart from Sam the man there aren’t many options. 8 there isn’t any proven class, but Denton, Morgon, and Faletau can all have talent, Hisleap can come back. 10, Presitalnd has a lot to prove but Sexton is Class as well.

    The age of most of the players is exciting there is a lot of room for development in the current crop.

    1. My only tweaks would be in the postions you have got as tight calls (Best, Lydiate, Faletau and Sexton in).

      What a team, Aussies had better get Quade hitting those tackle bags!

    2. My only concern with your 15 lions squad would be 9 and 10 – both Phillips and Priestland have not played well the last two games – there does not seen to be an outstanding 9 and 10 at the moment – 8 would be a huge call at the moment – some great 8 around at the moment

    3. That is a great team; I’m not sure about the front row. I feel Jenkins is either carrying a few knocks or getting on a bit (Jones too), it depends on what nick they are in by next year.

      I remember how the first test in SA was lost, which killed any possible series victory dead. It started to go wrong in the front row and Vickery got stuffed. Vickery was a great player, but the Lions was a test too far. I don’t think Australia have the same scrum, but I would look at how Ireland beat them at the World Cup and view the scrum as a potential real weapon against them.

      1. Vickery’s performance in the 3rd test was some comeback after that humping, aided by forwards coach …. Warren Gatland …. has to lead the next tour.

        I missed above, I would have Healey over Jenkins at the moment.

      2. I think the difference at scrum time between the 1st and 3rd test was the ref. Bothe tests it was either Beast boring in or Vickery dropping it. 1st test the ref constantly penalised Vickery 3rd test constantly the Beast. Hence the results of the game. I honestly think the scrums were exactly the same just officiated differently.

  17. I’ll go with Sexton, like I said it was a tight call, he is more creative than Priestland, they are both good in defense.

    Best is a good player but I think generally Ford’s lineout throwing is more accurate, Scotland run a lot of variations there.

    6 is really tight, Croft, O’brian and Lydaiate/Ferris offer completely different abilities so it dependend on what type of game youi are going for. There all great in their own way.

    I agree on 8 and 10 as being the hardest positions to call for reasans that no one has really stood out even though there are good players available in both positions.

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