Six Nations 2013: England team to play France


Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Manusamoa Tuilagi have all been named in the starting line-up for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against France at Twickenham Stadium (5pm).

Northampton Saints’ Hartley and Lawes replace Tom Youngs and James Haskell, who move to the bench, while Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) takes over from Billy Twlevetrees, with the Gloucester Rugby centre also among the replacements.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We thought long and hard about changing a winning team which did so well against Ireland. But we believe that Dylan, Courtney and Manu are ready for the opportunity and allow us to vary our play, while the bench will add impact and energy as the game unfolds in the second half.

“The players are really looking forward to getting back to Twickenham; the atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and hopefully the crowd can get behind us in what is sure to be a great challenge against a motivated and physical French team.”

England (v France, Saturday, 5pm, Twickenham Stadium)
15. Alex Goode (Saracens, 8 caps)
14. Chris Ashton (Saracens, 31 caps)
13. Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps)
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 13 caps)
11. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 13 caps)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 14 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 7 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 44 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 37 caps)
4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 6 caps)
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 14 caps)
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 17 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 14 caps)
8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 15 caps)

16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 6 caps)
17. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
18. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 6 caps)
19. James Haskell (London Wasps, 47 caps)
20. Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 38 caps)
22. Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 54 caps)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 2 caps)

Watch Stuart Lancaster explain his decisions:

What do you make of the team he’s picked? Will they beat the French this weekend?

28 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013: England team to play France

  1. Haha rfu website has tuilagi down as inside centre…that’s you and the BBC… the race for information dissemination definitely compromises accuracy

    1. Coxy, this information came directly from a Press Release from the RFU. To be honest, Tuilagi and Barritt will likely change positions quite often on Saturday as they are both capable of playing both 12 and 13.

  2. Agree with the comments yesterday that the Lawes selection is a bit of a risk, hopefully he will give the half backs a really uncomfortable game.

    Hartley Vs Youngs is close, but Hartley’s line out work has been better than Youngs and he’s probably stronger in the tight so think this is a reasonable change.

    Tuilagi Vs Bastaraud, wow the seismometers are going to twitching when they collide. I fancy Tuilagi to come out on top, he’s like Bastaraud with a stone more in muscle and 2 less in fat.

    Thought Vunipola’s performance at the weekend may have been enough to oust Marler. But Marler hasn’t exactly been bad against 2 top class tight heads thus far.

    1. Yeah I though Vunipola would have got the nod to start this game. Hope he gets the chance to make a big impact off the bench.

      1. Yep of which there is 14lbs less in muscle and 28lbs more in fat (he said from the safety of his laptop)!

        Anyone who bench pressed 195Kgs as a 20 year old is just a freak, I’m backing Tuilagi.

  3. Lawes definitely adds some athleticism to the back row, but I just wonder now about the balance. With Morgan or Haskell the back row seems perfectly balanced. But having watched a couple of clips of Lawes tackling scrum and fly halves lately, I’m sure Parra, Michalak or whoever will be feeling quite nervous about playing.
    England to win by 10-15!!

  4. Ironically given previous selections, France have selected a 15 with everybody playing in their favourite position and we’ve selected a team containing 3 guys that aren’t.

  5. So a second row at flanker, a flanker at 8 and a full back on the wing? Based on last round’s performance at 8, Tom Wood is going to be a weak link. He’s a superb 6 and a half decent 7, but the scrum was having to hold very steady and it was putting a lot of pressure on England. Why not just put Wood at 6, Waldrom at 8 and have Lawes and Haskell as impact off the bench?

    This strikes me as a little bit of madness, additionally with the fact that there is no wing cover (No, not Tuilagi). I’m a little more nervous about this game and I think the scrum is going to be a site of concern for England.

    I’m surprised Mako Vunipola didn’t get first team this weak. He’s been looking pretty good and Rowntree’s praise of him in the week made me think that he was going to be picked

  6. Can’t really argue with this team. It appears Haskell has been ill this week so I can see why he is not starting.

    In regards to Vunipola; he is obviously an excellent player but Marler needs to have a bad game before the jumps past him really. Marler was actually very good last week.

    My concern is the bench. No back three cover and no 2nd row cover (on the bench that is). Looks a bit imbalanced to me but hopefully we will be ok.

    I am still convinced this England side will be by 7-10 points.

  7. Wish Lancaster would grow some balls and pick 36 and Manu together. With how quick we could move the ball around with 36, especially with a big basteraud in the centres we could run the legs off les bleus.

  8. Barritt has rightly got the nod over 36, because he will spend all day tackling fofana and basteraud. I would have loved to see Manu and 36 together, but I don’t see that barritt has put a foot wrong, and this is possibly the most dangerous centres England have faced thus far.

    With Haskell having been ill, Lawes is the right choice at 6. By all accounts, Waldrom would not have been in the 23 had billy vunipola not done an ankle in training, so leaving wood at 8 is the logical choice. The management have clearly taken the view of getting the best XV players on the field.

    With regards to the wing cover, I wonder if the scrum halves are seen as “cover” here. Ben Youngs won his first cap coming off the bench onto the wing, due to injuries, and Danny care had definitely finished a number of games out there for quins. I think that they will be uses there if they are needed.

    Mako was unlucky, but then again, Marler would have been very unlucky to have been dropped, as he has performed well so far.

    1. The best XV on the pitch is no match for the best players in position. Wood was a liability at 8 against Ireland and he will be a liability there again. The best 8 should be on the pitch and the only 8 in the 23 is Waldrom. 8 is a specialist position. It’s not like playing a 6 at 7. It’s more comparable to playing a full back at fly half. Sure, backs against the wall and all your substitutions made you might call it, but it’s not an ideal way to be starting a game.

      I’m not sure how you can say that Waldrom’s only in the 23 because Vunipola is injured considering Waldrom was selected ahead of him against Ireland.

  9. sure Lawes is a risk, but I recon the french are going to be really, really physical at the start and they have some serious kilos uofront, Lawes is there to hit rucks and tackle them backwards, I’m not sure but I have faith.

    This is not the game to try 36 and manu, we can kleave that for the Italy matcha nd see how it goes.

    All depends on the french, I can’t see them putting 3 bad games in. Even if they play well England could beat them, but it will be tight, one shouldn’t underestimate the quality on the field that france have.

    Key man – Thierry Desetour, he is the man the dragged them to the WC final, on his day he is the best backrow forward in the world, if he leads from the front the french will follow.

  10. Courtney Lawes at 6 is a big mistake in my opinion. What’s the point in having a dedicated number 8 in the squad such as Waldrom if your not going to play them when your short of back row options? I’ve generally liked the selections that SL has made in the past, but this exactly the same as the Saint-Andre nonsense we’ve been having recently.

    Shoving the best players on the pitch all at the same time isn’t necessarily always the best formula to use. International’s are all about striking the right balance between players, and unfortunately I don’t think this has been achieved this time.

  11. Woollies, it has been widely reported that billy was going to be selected above Waldrom for this fixture, based on his outstanding game on the weekend, so that’s how I can say that.

    Clearly the management have not seen a huge deal from Waldrom recently, and he was left in the eps due to the restrictions on the number of changes Lancaster can make. Yes a 6 playing 8 isn’t ideal, and there are differences in the positions, however based on the number of players who play both (and the fact that I spent the majority of my youth playing both) I can tell you that they are not as different as you claim. Especially when robshaw is taking on other responsibilities, like fielding the kicks, which wood said in the press this week “allows him to just focus on playing his regular game”

    1. I’ve played both flanker and number 8 (and a spell at second row). It is a very different skill set and I don’t think it’s as easy to say any 6 can play 8. As a flanker, at the scrum, you’re all about ballast and first up tackles. You add a little shunt and mobility, but not a lot else. At 8, you’ve got to try to direct the scrum, keep the ball at your feet as it wobbles left and right and you’ve got to keep it stable.

      If lancaster didn’t see last week just how much pressure was on the England scrum from the lack of stability I’m concerned. Also, if Waldrom isn’t in his view to play, why have him there at all? If he doesn’t think Tom Waldrom is going to be England number 8 or even second choice and he’s under the dillusion that Haskell and Tom Wood are good number 8s, why not bring in another 6 and bench Lawes so that there’s a 6 at 6?

      1. I started playing as a youth in the second row, switched to 6 when I started playing senior rugby. Played at 8 for my regiment and Basingstoke 1st xv and had a few games at 7. Yes they all have their own particular idiosyncrasies and skill traits, but in this modern era of super fit players and excellent coaching players can switch position relatively easily.
        Against an unpredictable France, desperate for a win, England are going to need, fit, mobile, strong players at the peak of their game. To me it looks as though that’s exactly what SL has done, so well done to him and his coaching team. I can’t wait for the game.

      2. Agree with you that Wood didn’t look too comfortable at the base of the scrum, especially when it was moving around a bit. We did however win, and we won the key back row battle at the breakdown, so the 3 x 6.5 strategy did work in my opinion.

        Whilst I would have preferred a less experimental selection for France with Waldrom at 8 I do have a lot more faith in Lancaster’s judgement than my own! With Lawes coming in it must be the most athletic back 5 we have ever fielded plus we get the nasty edge the pack needs and great line out options. It’s a risk but I’m not too pessimistic about it.

      3. I too have spent my time playing between 4,6 and 8 with the odd spell at 12 and have played every position on the field except hooker (although I have thrown in at the lineout). And I disagree, although there are the odd different job/skill required from 6 and 8, on the whole they are pretty similar positions, especially when another player fields the kicks for you (as robshaw is doing for wood).

        SL is limited by the EPS agreement as to how many chances he can make, as seeing as no one expected Morgan to get hurt, this omwas seen as a less important change. Also there is not actually another 6 in the squad. With all of the injuries and Haskell having flu, the only flankers left are 7s.

        A week is a long time for England to practice the control at the base of the scrum. As long as they have done that, then it should be ok. Also at this level flankers are required to do a lot more pushing than just an initial shunt. I recall being told by a coach that if a flanker didnt want to push then we might as well have 6 man scrums like in rugby league.

        My view is that if we want to be regressive and play Waldrom, then we might as well go the full hog and just recall Easter, because he is at least performing at a higher standard than Waldrom. I personally was pleased that they had decided vunipola has proved his quality and would have chosen him.

        Also, based on the number of players who shift around between 6 and 8 (and even some who play lock too) it would suggest that the roles are relatively interchangeable in the modern game. I can provide an extensive list if past and present players who play both 6 and 8 if you would like?

  12. It will be interesting to see where this leaves Waldrom in regards his future in the EPS. He is clearly not in the first XV plans and seems to be there through injury at the moment. I actually think he is an underrated performer for England.

    Shame Haskell and Vunipola are recovering from illness/injured as i think one of these would have started at 8 and given a better balance to the back row – looking forward to seeing Lawes squash Parra early on though!

  13. It will be interesting to see how Lawes does at 6 at this level. He’s done a good job there for Saints a few times. He’s very mobile and a huge tackler, which is just what you want from a 6. As others have said, why keep Waldrom in the squad if you’re not going to use him and why isn’t Strettle in the mix? He’s been on great form.

    1. And a lot more of his tackles have been the low Lydiate tree chops, not just the huge full body hits on the small men.

      Only aspect I’m worried about is his defensive decision making round the scrum, i.e. when to break, to drift or not as I’ve seen him flat footed in this situation in the past.

  14. What Lancaster’s demonstrated numerous times is that while he will bench players who’ve performed in the past if he thinks they’re not up to scratch, he’ll also bring back players who’ve had a wobble or two but then impress him by upping things in training (hence the return of Farrell and Hartley). What this suggests to me is that he’s not happy with what Waldrom’s been bringing in training, but hasn’t ruled him out for good a la Charlie Hodgson or, it would seem, Charlie Sharples (remember those guys?). This is why it makes me sad not to see Dickson, apart from being a hugely biased Saints supporter, but not overly despondent. If they justify their inclusion they’ll be included, SL’s definitely proved that more than once.

  15. I think we all need to put our trust in SL and the coaching team. They are the guys watching and coaching the players in training, and they are the only ones who know what each players capabilities are in certain positions. Obviously they feel comfortable playing Wood at 8 and Lawes at 6, and they have their reasons for doing so. So let’s reserve our judgement until after the game, and we know the result.

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