Time for the new blood as England’s Old Guard make way

After England were defeated by South Africa in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final in Paris, the majority of the squad were commended for their brave performances not just in the final itself, but throughout the tournament. The likes of Phil Vickery, Lawrence Dallaglio, Jason Robinson, Josh Lewsey, Mike Catt and Andy Gomarsall all moved on, realising their time was up and calling it a day. With hindsight, these retirements opened up the opportunities for Dan Cole, Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs to come through and fill those positions, aside from in Catt’s position where the search for a decent replacement goes on.

This time round, the players making way will, and should, include Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall, Simon Shaw, Steve Thompson, Nick Easter and perhaps Mark Cueto, whilst Andrew Sheridan who departed this tournament early after an injury against Argentina can also be added to the list. There are also players such as Shontayne Hape, Thomas Waldrom, Louis Deacon, Richard Wigglesworth and Lee Mears for whom another World Cup does not seem a likely prospect, through a combination of both age and form. That’s 13 out of England’s 30 man squad that travelled to New Zealand.

Now whilst 2015 is a long way away in terms of thinking about potential selection, whoever is in charge of England, and it might not be Martin Johnson, will already be musing about who to pick for the first Six Nations match against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4th next year. England must now follow the examples of Australia and Wales and put in young players and trust in them. I’m not talking about creating another Anthony Allen scenario, but keeping faith with them and let them develop, as Australia have done with Genia, Cooper, Beale and O’Connor and Wales are doing with Faletau, Warburton, North and Priestland.

England team to face Scotland:

1. Alex Corbisiero, 2. Dylan Hartley (c), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Courtney Lawes, 5. Tom Palmer, 6. Tom Croft, 7. Tom Wood, 8. Luke Narraway, 9. Danny Care, 10. Toby Flood, 11. Christian Wade, 12. Owen Farrell, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 14. Chris Ashton, 15. Ben Foden.


16. David Paice, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Phil Dowson, 19. Chris Robshaw, 20. Ben Youngs, 21. Brad Barritt, 22. Delon Armitage

The side would retain 10 of the team that played a part in the match against France in the World Cup, with Narraway, Wade and Farrell coming in from outside the squad. Following the poor performances of Matt Stevens in the last two matches and the injury problems of Andrew Sheridan, it only seems right that Alex Corbisiero should not only be England’s starting prop against Scotland, but perhaps for some time to come, with Joe Marler competing with him for the shirt. Of those that remain, Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Tom Croft, Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes, Ben Youngs, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Ashton are all 25 or under, with Tom Palmer being the only player in the side over 30.

The bench offers a better reflection of the much needed change, with Marler, Dowson, Robshaw, Barritt coming in, all players whose involvement with the national side is overdue. Of all of the new players, Farrell is arguably the most important. Already a Premiership winner at just 19, he could become the fulcrum of this England side over the next decade.

by Ben Coles

Photo: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images

102 thoughts on “Time for the new blood as England’s Old Guard make way

  1. I remember when Cipriani might have been included in this list. Still, an interesting article, I’ve been looking for someone’s perspective on this. It could be an exciting few years build up.

  2. I’m assuming you’re discounting Haskell because he is Japan-bound? I can only assume that he is going for the cash, but it does seem an odd decision by him, if he wants to try and establish himself as an international level player. A year out of contention, much like Danny Ciprani (although, you could argue, that his problems are much more than location-based) is surely going to hamper his chances of getting back into the squad.

  3. Before Joe Marler is considered at loosehead there is a superb prop at Gloucester, Nick Wood, sho seems to be a forgotten man. Paul Doran Jones is another to consider.

    Dowson should have been on the plane to NZ anyway, but rather than focus on who should play the attention shold be on the coaching staff, after all England do have the players.

  4. Yeah, Farrell looks the business – be great to see him at 12, covering 10 for when Toby gets the wobbles (what were those looped offloads into grateful French hands all about?!? Really do think we need an alternative in the long-run). Looks a side capable of playing positive rugby.

    Think you’re absolutely right about the players that need to go – they’ve had their time (Cueto very much included).

  5. In my opinion during this world cup Joe Simpson should have had a bigger role. And should be involved from now on. Quality player.

  6. I was thinking about this too. Putting aside the hype (and an in-form Tom Croft), we’ve not had a world class back-row or 12 for ages, with wing and second-row looking short of in-depth quality too. Farrell looks like has the potential and temperament but the days of Hill, Back and Dallaglio still seem a huge amount of time ago with no up-and-comers really standing out

    Hopefully Attwood can step up to help the lock situation and Wade and a few of the other exciting wings make it at international level.

    1. Threw the idea of Attwood around for a long time, but he just hasn’t impressed me so far with Bath this season. Croft is essential as he can cover the second row well, hence having Dowson and Robshaw on the bench.

  7. I think Wade is barely out of school and needs to prove himself in the Premiership for a few months. Sharples has to be in.

    1. Tough call between the two of them. Wade is such an exciting talent though. Saw him for the first time in the flesh against Bath yesterday and whilst he made a couple of defensive errors, his pace is something England need.

  8. I’m a Quins fan, so I’m bound to be a little biased, but isn’t Turner-Hall worth a place on the bench? Barritt’s a good player, but Turner-Hall’s that little bit better for my money

    1. If I was to pick a centre from Harlequins to be in the new England squad it would be George Lowe over JTH. Disappointed with how he’s declined after making such an impact in his first season. Looks to be getting back there though.

  9. Totally agree with the sentiments, but can’t help but feel that in order to maximise their potential, the management has to change, preferably to a set up with experience and an inclination to be more adventurous.

    Narraway’s 28 apparently, so I can’t see a huge amount of value in bringing him in with 2015 in mind. Would much rather give Crane a chance to shine once he’s recovered from his injury. Would also like to see Twelvetrees, Joseph and Sharples make the break through – as they have real potential.

    1. Management has been a problem.

      I like Narraway as a player, but way too injury prone to make a proper run at it, unfortunately like Simpson -Daniel.

  10. What about the current crop of young talent in the under 20’s side- maybe some of them will step up to the mark before 2015. I am not sure that Dylan Hartley is the right sort to be a leader. Personally I think this is what we have lacked as an England side a born leader on the field.

  11. Danny “two steps” Care the “future” for England? Give me a break – we need quick ball, not the dross he delivers.

    1. agreed, danny care isnt the anwswer.

      why on earth youngs and flood werent given more game time is beyond me. they play toegther everyone bloody week!

      12trees needs a shot, potentially @ 12.

      i think farrell is more of a 10.

      Sharples is the real deal. Reayl gas but has a superb kicking game. I like my other winger to be bulkier and Miles benjamin is looking good.not sure on his defence tho.

      1. Rachel will love you for that. Good option at 21 instead of Barritt, but no need for him with two playmakers already on the pitch.

  12. We’ve got Ollie Lindsay-Hague coming through for Quins at the moment. Already looking like a very decent player on the Sevens circuit. Potential new scrum half?

    1. Very decent talent Alex but perhaps too soon for him. Wealth of talent at 9 means he needs to impress in the Premiership, but am I right in saying he can’t get past Karl Dickson at the moment, let alone Care when he’s fit?

  13. WC semi finals this weekend. British team still in them. Just thought I’d let you know in case you had anything to say about those once you’ve finished the important job of looking ahead to England’s next match.

    At least do Google searchers a favour and call it “The English Rugby Blog” so we can avoid accidentally stumbling over here…

    … this is all meant as a light hearted dig mind, ok? I’m not serious so no need for lots of venting about chippy Taffs and the like, but you’ve got to admit it does look a little navel gazing given the cup is still on?

    1. Brighty. Did you not consider that we might be spending the whole of this week building up the Wales semi-final against France? Or that we might actually want them to win?! Crazy right?

      Wales Player Ratings are up at 3.

      1. yes ben, crazy. do you want wales to win?

        my second team was samoa, who should really be where wales are…….

        Id like to see the frogs win, just for how mental they all are.

        1. Samoa? I agree, if they’d been in England’s group then they could well be where Wales are as they would have topped that group and had a good shot at beating France.

          1. No brighty, i mean that If samoa had a 7 day turn around they could have beaten wales.

            lots of coulds and ifs i know. i just feel sorry for a small island nation, who has a squad of players which is likely not to be betteedr for a generation, who get short changed by the RWC for no reason. (im not referring to Ireland).

            while i am pressing the rant button, if i see another haka,or cultural tongue poking gesture, im going to cry.

    2. opinions expressed on this specific thread (about english rugby), are by englishmen, hence the english bias.

      are we allowed to look at the future of english rugby?

      Or do you want a thread about how amazing welsh rugby is?

      You can have one, but you need to actually win a RWC first. who knows, you may do……

      1. All fair comments, it just amused me that the lead story I stumbled across is “who should England pick in their next match” while we’re still in a WC and this is “The Rugby Blog”, not “The English Rugby Blog”. I was hungry for some looking forward to the semi’s… As I said though it was all meant in jest, you’re free to navel gaze as much as you want. And yes, I’m still taking the piss, none of this is meant seriously as an anti English rant.

        1. Jimmy, I knew that was what you meant but I also think it was unlucky/unfair for them to be in a group with SA and Wales, when Arg only had Eng and Sco. Samoa would have topped England’s group, it’s unfair they had to beat both SA and Wales to progress when Eng simply had to do Arg and Sco. So I stand by the assertion that Samoa would have topped England’s group and agree that would have been a fairer result as Samoa are a better team than England at the moment.

          I agree with you on the Haka, no place for it in the game. Very annoyed the IRB have now enshrined it’s untouchable status in the rules.

          1. Brighty Samoa would have beaten Wales if they’d had a full 7 days rest don’t kid yourself otherwise so it was the mid week game that kept them from progressing not Wales. Would they have topped the group Eng were in? Possibly but I doubt it very much

          2. Ben, not a chance. You seriously think Eng, who are now on their way home, would have beaten Samoa but Wales, who are now in the semi’s, wouldn’t have if Samoa had had two days more rest? Just remind me, who was it who lost to the team that lost to Tonga again? Who scraped past the mighty Scotland? Is is hilarious, dumped out of WC a the quarters and nothing changes, England still then they are great. Long may it continue.

            And why (or how) do you guys keep removing the ability to reply directly to your absurd posts?

  14. Brighty, before I start, I’m not having a dig either. I’m half Welsh, so accordingly I’ll be supporting Wales come next weekend. I’ve lived in England all my life (up until now anyhow- I’m studying in Cardiff) and so I support England.

    However, I can’t really blame other England fans for not caring about the other Home Nations’ progress in the tournament when so many of them actively support ‘whoever is playing England’.

    It’s not all one way traffic you know…?

    1. Yeah, fair point about English fans not caring (though as you can imagine, we all cared a lot about the Eng/Fra result :-) ), but this is “The Rugby Blog”, not “The English Fans Rugby Blog”. I’m trying to make a light-hearted point that in England the terms “Rugby” and “English Rugby” mean the same when it comes to the media. It also would seem to extend to blogs like this. I expect ITV to concentrate on Eng (Steve Rider constantly talking to the viewer on Sat saying “I’m sure you’re all gutted as well) despite broadcasting to the whole of Britain, but wasn’t expecting this blog to perhaps indicate the same preference for stories.

      1. If you go through the whole of our coverage during the RWC you’ll know that’s not the case. It’s one morning of focus on how poorly England played and what they need to change. Feel free to assume, but your facts are wrong.

        1. Ok yeah, point taken. It’s more of a cumulative effect of seeing the weekends media dominated by England’s loss then coming on to this blog for the first time this weekend and the headline story I see is “England’s next team”. I’ll follow the blog for the rest of the tournament and look forward to seeing the coverage.

      2. Brighty – there is no point to make here. On this blog there are plenty of articles by Irish dudes about ireland (JL Pagano & Connoper ) and scotish ladies about scottish rugby (christine), so …….whats your beef?

        1. See above. As I said, cumulative effect of the overall media and this blog was the final straw … I got bored on the weekend of

          – BBC 5 live starting all news stories with Eng loss then Wales win
          – Dawson et als programme starting with Eng..
          – Telegraph, Guardian, etc. print and websites headlined with “Eng lose” then some stuff after about Wales win.

          So points taken from all of you, as I said, I’ll follow the blog for the rest of the tournament and enjoy the coverage.

          1. As the provider of a lot of the Welsh coverage here I think the balance is actually fair.

            It’s a very difficult job The Rugby Blog has in attempting to cover all four nations, especially when the reality is that one (England) makes up such a high percentage of the likely readership.

  15. Looks like a very capable line up. Is Wood normally a 7? I think he would be better at 6. Croft seems to have lost a bit of form (probably why he was selected). Then you could have Saull or Armitage in at 7.
    Second row options outside of Lawes & Palmer: Botha, Attwood, Kitchener to name a few.

    My 22:
    1. Corbisiero, 2. Hartley, 3. Cole, 4. Lawes, 5. Palmer, 6. Wood, 7. Saull, 8. Dowson (c) 9. Youngs, 10. Flood, 11. Sharples, 12. Farrell, 13. Tuilagi, 14. Ashton, 15. Foden

    16. Gray? George? 17. Stevens, 18. Botha, 19, Croft, 20, Care, 21. Barritt, 22. Armitage.

    Hooker is the most difficult position, as there just don’t seem to be that many top English hookers. There are lots of options in the backs, but I have to agree that Farrell’s inclusion is crucial. He has the ability, temperament and confidence needed to be an England great.

    1. By no mean’s suggesting any bias, but are you a Sarries fan Dazza?

      Simply because Saull was all the rage a year ago but has drifted off the radar. Botha would be on the bench if I hadn’t opted for two back rows with Croft as second row cover. Interested to get your thoughts on Jamie George though, he popped up in the writing process but needs more game time for me.

      1. I think the point is that we need a 7 playing 7, like most of the other best teams – disregarding the fact that SA’s best 7 wears 6! – not a 6 playing 7.

        1. Staggy – in SA their blindside flanker is 7 and openside wears 6.

          but you are right. if only tom rees would stop getting injured!

  16. Brighty – you are talking utter drivel. ScrumV is not called Welsh ScrumV, yet I believe they focus on welsh rugby. Why don’t you change your name to Welshy rather than Brighty to avoid confusion!

    The XV is very exciting. Although plumping for Wade so early is very harsh on Sharples. He really does look the complete article.

    1. Umm, you do know that Scrum V is shown on BBC WALES only, don’t you? That would seem to make it clear enough that it’s focus is on Wales.

  17. Some interesting selections. I’m surprised at picking Care ahead of Youngs. First reason being that he delivers slow ball and telegraphs his passes. Secondly, I’m assuming tht selection is based on a poor World Cup for Youngs where he was expected to service Wilkinson in a manner that is not generally expected of him. Secondly, The link up with Flood is brilliant and definitely a tactic that will be the future of England.

    Speaking of Leicester linkups, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Twelvetrees coming in at 12, though Farrel is a competent player I’d like to see.

    What I’m not seeing is a 7 in your side. There are only 2 real 7s I can think of for England and they are Hendre Fourie and Steffon Armitage. There is an overabundance of 6s and this is a problem.

    I think there are many considerations for the wing. I was impressed by Miles Benjamin for Saxons, but also I thought Charlie Sharples was unlucky to miss out.

    1. 12trees is young but hes got a massive boot, massive pass off both hands and is big fella. he will wear an england shirt soon!

      1. Once again I’m with you on this. Would prefer to see a centre playing centre rather than a fly half playing centre. Farrell on the bench to come on for Flood and get experience in the position he knows and can to a certain extent play in his comfort zone.

        1. Farrell has shown at 12 this season for Saracens that he is excellent there. It’s down to a preference of what type of player you like at 12, a playmaker like Farrell or Twelvetrees, or someone more direct such as Barritt. For me it’s the former.

  18. Who cares what team they pick…thats next year !
    Why don’t we concentrate on the rest of the world cup and enjoy the rugby being played on the pitch by 4 deserving teams,who at least are trying to do a professional and entertaining job ! there is too much of the field rubbish being reported because teams like England are not doing it on the pitch…if they were do you think we would have heard about half this tosh…blown out of proportion…by the way until the rfu sort them selves out and you have an attack minded coach then you have no chance !

    1. Null point for two reasons. Firstly, England were top try scorers in the 6 nations 2011 and 2009. They also scored lots of tries in this campaign. Not as many as other sides, but against different opposition, they’ve outscored all of their opponents on the try board, except France, evens. Defending a try is often as important as scoring one.

      Secondly, attacking and try scoring doesn’t win world cups. Goal kicking and consistent pressure does. England’s real problem this world cup is that they’ve allowed other teams to apply pressure and get the penalties and not done enough of it themselves. Wales finished 4th in the 6N last year, below England, in spite of scoring 10 tries to England’s 6.

      Try scoring and attack, while helpful in winning games has never been proven to be a tournament winner. It’s about scoring more than the opposition and a good defence will ensure that every one of your points counts.

      1. Umm, you do know that England lost on the weekend, right? So the team that played the rugby and scored the tries won (France). In the other match on that day the team that scored three tries to one were the winner. The teams that scored the least amount of tries on Sat went home.

        England’s are living in the past with this “a win is a win is win … grind it out … kick your penalties” approach. The rest of us have moved on from that. If you want to stick with intensity, drop goals and winning matches through penalties then carry on. The rest of the world has got a World Cup to play in.

        “Try scoring and attack, while helpful in winning games has never been proven to be a tournament winner. It’s about scoring more than the opposition and a good defence will ensure that every one of your points counts.” – Attack and defence are not mutually exclusive you know, just ask Wales. You might be surprised to know that having a good attack to go with your good defence is quite a decent tactic…

        1. You’re also aware I assume that on the try count England vs. France was even. I assume you’re also aware that my point was valid – a staunch defence from France and a grind to keep England in their own half late on, force the penalties, score the drop goals. Sound familiar? I have to admit, it is painful to watch England beaten by a team more effectively pushing England’s game plan, as in the 2007 final.

          The All Blacks seem pretty aware of it too. Forget the last 30 minutes of the Argentina game, New Zealand were keeping the ball up there, not attacking that well, not scoring tries and having to kick the goals to keep the pressure on. Coming into the last 30 minutes, New Zealand were grinding towards a win.

          Whatever the statistic is I forget, but the majority of points scored in World Cup finals are with the boot, not by crossing the line. South Africa might disagree with you based on the fact that all 15 of their final points were from the boot in 2007. England failed to score against Australia, but beat their 1 try 4 years ago.

          England do attack and it shows with the fact that they have scored lots of tries. Compared to Wales and Ireland as well, they went through as the leaders in their groups +3 winning bonus points (Ireland +2, Wales +2 win +1 losing). The problem they’ve had in the world cup is that Wilkinson’s attempts to grind the game out have been rubbish, less a problem with the tactic, more a problem with the application

          1. you are right, finals have been close and the winners have won because they can kick.

            lets say wlaes make the final v NZ / aus. if wales decide to chuck it about, theyll come off second best.

          2. That’s how teams used to win… The game has moved on. France won that match by going for broke from the off, not grinding out a 3-0 win. By the time England switched on to the change it was too late, French all off on the sidelines having a fag, Eng score two tries when it hardly matters. Too little too late.

            Stats are historic, this WC won’t come down to the same sort of play. The grind it out merchants, the kings of which being Eng and SA, have gone home.

            “Forget the last 30 minutes of the Argentina game” … well yes, let’s forget the try scoring part of the game if you want to win the argument …

            Yes, Eng went through with a lot of points in their group – they played Romania and Georgia. My nan could score tries against those (because she isn’t Scottish).

            As I said, keep believing the problem was with the application and you’ll keep losing the comps from now on. The world and his mother can see that combining attack with defence is the way forward, but Eng will persist with this “intensity” approach.

        2. So what about Austalia then. Wild try scoring machine or grind it out, score a try through the forwards and take their kicks at goal team?

          1. Brighty if the world has moved on wht did the worlds greatest attacking team chose to keep the scopeboard ticking over by kicking penalties and only scored tries once the game was already won?? Why did Ausralia grind out a win over SA? There have been probably less than 10 tries scored in RWC finals! Wales do not have experience in knock out rugby and if they try and play how you are suggesting they will get beat badly!

          2. Ben, why would Wales follow the pattern of the team dumped out at the QFs? Playing rugby has done them well enough so far this tournament.

            Playing rugby does not preclude kicking penalties. The difference between NZ and Eng is that Eng play for penalties, they play for a low scoring attritional win. NZ forced the penalties by attacking Arg at pace. Eng can dream of attacking anyone at pace. That’s why they’re on the flight home. Dreary, dull and out of touch. The proof is there in front of you. Attacking sides left in the comp – four. Dreary kick the ball and up&under merchants sent home this weekend – 3. Good rugby side who played their part in a blinding match but went home anyway – 1. Ireland.

          3. Brighty I didn’t mention Eng once and wasn’t saying that Wales should play like them so your comments are a little off kilter!

            Although I have noticed the theme, whatever anyone says you some how drag it back to an attack on English rugby, quite frankly it a bit childish and far to easy to come back on but I won’t as that’s not what this site is about. Come back once you’ve replaced that sizeable chip on your shoulder!

          4. Australia – one try, ground out a win against South Africa. Their game against Ireland was also ground out by both sides, Ireland the winner.

            I disagree whole heartedly with the notion that England don’t play attacking rugby. The 6 Nations competition this year says otherwise, the World Cup warmups say otherwise and the World Cup says otherwise. On a number of occasions, England have pushed the ball up field, put pressure on and scored tries, but it’s not been working with Jonny Wilkinson. Flood came on against Scotland, suddenly a kickable penalty is in touch and a try scored.

            I believe what England are actually struggling with is duplicity. Two game plans, two teams, same pitch and Johnson made the mistake of picking half a team of grinders and half a team of attacking players.

            End of the day, you play to the team’s strengths and teams with the best defence generally win out. While you’re saying Brighty that Grinding game is the history of the sport, I think you’re the wrong way around. When was the last time you saw a big important game score 3 or 4 tries a piece? One side dominates and scores 7 tries is very different to 7 vs. 6 tries which is not the sort of game we’re seeing. We’re seeing close teams on the day grinding out wins. Push up to the front, put the pressure on, drop goal, penalty, score board ticking over. An issue that New Zealand have recognised and had their players practicing drop goals because that’s how you win.

            Look at the stats of the last 4 world cup finals
            2007 – 0 tries – 5 penalties wins
            2003 – 2 tries – one a piece – comes down to lots of penalties and drop goals
            1999 – 2 tries – Australia score 2 and dominate with the boot with 7 penalties to tie up the score
            1995 – 0 tries – SA score 3 penalties and 2 drop goals after a dogged defensive display.
            1991 – 1 try beats 0

            You have to go back 24 years to the first world cup final to see more than 2 tries in a world cup final. If Wales can’t find what they need to grind it out, they’re not going to win

          5. Wookie, I understand your stats but I genuinely don’t think they indicate how it will go this year for two main reasons

            1 – the game is different. To use some stats from this weekend -> 3 of the 4 teams who scored the first try won the match. 2 of the 4 teams who scored the most tries won. Eng (go away Ben H, this isn’t a dig) even’d Fra in the try score but as I have said I think the crucial thing there was that France scored their two tries first. There is a strong argument that Eng’s tries came about because Fra switched off with the game in the bag. I’ll expand on that if you think it’s too contentious.

            2 – If Wales change the way they play now then they’ll get walloped. We have built a game around a very strong defense, good counter attacking off turnover ball and aggressive first phase attacking (otherwise known as Jamie Roberts). If we change that now and try and play like Ireland (kick to the corners) or England (drive it up the middle for drop goal opportunities) or SA (up and unders to get penalties) then we’ll come unstuck. And yes, the three team examples are gross simplifications of their gameplans, all three mix it up, but I would not be the only commentator to use these summaries as defining aspects of those teams games.

            To further expand on 2, you said “When was the last time you saw a big important game score 3 or 4 tries a piece” Well, the Wales/Ire game was very close to a 3-2 try score (only Ickle’s knees saved us). So my overall points are that a) I think this year try scoring will be the difference and b) Wales can’t really play any other way (but remember, Wales game is massively built on defence, I’m not talking about Harlem Globetrotters rugby).

            All people interested in rugby please stop reading here…

            Ben H, that was a classic cowards response. Name calling followed by running away while taking the moral high ground. That’s fine, please ignore all of my further comments as I will endeavour to ignore yours, then we won’t bother each other at all.

  19. Ben – you’re assumption would be correct, I am a Sarries fan. Despite most peoples belief that we only have SA players, we do actually have some really good young English talent as well. As you yourself have pointed out here, Farrell needs to be in the England squad sooner rather than later. But Saull is coming back and looking good. Another option is an ex-Sarrie, Dave Seymour. playing very well for Sale at the moment, and a very good leader as well.

  20. I do love a bit of navel-gazing

    Gray is looking good as far as hookers are concerned. Paice isn’t bad

    Would think that George Lowe should be on the radar and also suprised that no-one has mentioned James Gaskell, James Short or Alex Goode

    Robshaw needs to be involved. And for number 8 we could do worse than start bringing Alex Gray into the side – he looks like he could be decent

    If other teams had as successful an Under 20 side as ours, we would already be seeing some of them in the international side – a la James O’Connor or George North

    Below is the Under 20 side that only lost to NZ in the Junior World Cup and won a grand slam in their 6 nations. How many of them will we see in the England side come 2015?

    Mako Vunipola Saracens
    Mikey Haywood (Northampton Saints)
    Will Collier (Harlequins)
    Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
    Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
    Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
    Matt Everard (Leicester Tigers)
    Alex Gray (C) (Newcastle Falcons)
    Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
    Koree Britton (Gloucester Rugby)
    Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
    Ryan Bower (Leicester Tigers)
    Sam Twomey (Harlequins)
    Sam Jones (London Wasps)

    Ben Ransom (Saracens)
    Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
    Guy Armitage (London Irish)
    Owen Farrell (Saracens)
    Christian Wade (London Wasps)
    George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
    Chris Cook (Bath Rugby)
    Andy Short (Worcester Warriors)
    Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
    Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby)
    Ryan Mills (Gloucester Rugby)
    Marland Yarde (London Irish)

  21. Ireland have some rebuilding to do! my next six nation team would be 1 Healy 2 Croinin( if he learns to throw!) 3 hagan and ross both need game time 4 and 5 (hard to know) 6 ferris and O’brien 7 dominic ryan 8 Heaslip 9 murray, 10 sexton, 11 fitz, 12 Mc Fadden, 13 Bowe, 14 Trimble and 15 kearny 16 jason harris wright 17 hagan 18 …. 19 ferris o’brien 20 marshal 21 mc kinley 22 earls

    so who to replace cullen poc and o’callanaghan ?? ian nagle of munster, dan touhy but old ferris??? devin toner is he to tall?? does any one have ideas???

  22. I think in general people on this thread need to take a chill pill. Those readers who are not english can read the other 9 or 10 threads that aren’t to do with England.

    I think Sharples should definitely be in the team. Seems harsh to drop Youngs after a few poor matches, he does have talent. For those who don’t like the idea of Youngs in the team how about Micky Young. Exciting, fast, recently drafted to the tigers, i would have him over Care i think.

    Just wondering if Cipriani might get any good, now that he is playing in a back line full of quality players. Obviously cant be selected for the six nation but could be a potential 10 for 2015.

    1. I think the point with Youngs and any other players out of form is to let them go back to their clubs, play themselves back into form and then come back into the squad. I don’t think anyone here believes we’ve heard the last of Youngs. Cipriani has the talent,but has to remember he’s a rugby player not a rock star or he’ll end up on the Gavin Henson discard pile.

      1. I don’t think Youngs was out of form in the World Cup, I think he was played alongside the wrong 10

        1. I don’t think he played as well after his injury, although agree that he plays better with Flood than Wilko. However my main point was he’s still international class and even if he is having a dip in form, he shouldn’t be far from the squad if not in it.

  23. tom palmer = ineligible, because he plays in france, under the new ‘rules’ that came in when steve walsh blew his whistle on sat…

  24. Before picking any players we have to decide what style of rugby we are going to play and then pick players who can best play that style.
    For example if we are going to play a forwards dominated game then Tuilagi has to be moved to inside centre so that we attack closer to the set piece and a kicking outside centre put in….Tuilagi playing at outside centre stops the option of the ‘wiper’ from a miss one because he can’t kick and puts pressure on the fly half to deliver every kick in the match and limits our control of the game.But if we choose to play a more expansive game then Tuilagi plays at outside centre and our game is played with fewer kicks for position. Therefore we need the fastest open side we can to get to support his runs and break downs further from the set piece and an inside centre who is a support runner and good at being first into the breakdown.
    This is what Australia have done.They have picked a team to do a certain job. They don’t expect players to do jobs that they don’t have the skills to deliver.
    This is why I believe the first thing that should happen is the coaches should go. They failed. England has the players I’m sure, the coaches failed to deliver a game plan or strategy to give the results needed.
    On the evidence of the World Cup if we were to pick a British Lions team right now there would be virtually no english players in it. They may have played badly but tactical and selectional decisions led to a lot of that. I blame the coaches for not giving them the platform, stucture and opportunities to perform at their best. Too many ‘mates’ decisions made for me.

  25. I wouldn’t pick Hartley as captain. He gives away far too many pens to be leading by example. Also, Tom Palmer is 32, we need someone else in there!

  26. Have to agree with you Brighty, the penalties the Alll Blacks got were a result of constant attack, and the Arg although very valiant in defence and willing in attack were lucky they didnt get more sin binned for constant infringements.
    Wales deserve to be where they are because of the brilliant rugby they are playing, and I hope they reach the final and I think they will.
    Australia and New Zealand are going to smash each other next weekend and I think the game will probably be decided by kicks, but it wont be from the lack of playing attacking rugby.
    The IRB have turned the cup into a farce by not giving the 2nd tier nations a fair shake, and if the model continues then 2015 probably will only have NH teams at it.
    Good luck to the rest of the sides still playing its anyones to win and thats a good thing.

    1. As a Kiwi watching the Eng/Fra game, I made the comment when France went 11-0 up early on that England wouldn’t be able to fight their way back in, and was proved right.
      11-0 behind isn’t a long stretch when scoring tries is part of your game plan, as a single converted try puts you right back in the game, but it’s a hell of a long way behind when you rely on picking up points 3 at a time.
      It was interesting to see, however, that when England finally threw it around and attempted to score tries (only after being forced to when the scoreboard and time was obviously against them) they were moderately successful. Perhaps if they actually trained to do that as a regular part of their game plan, instead of resorting to it when they absolutely had to, they might have made it further?
      As for the All Blacks, nobody is against taking the points when they’re on offer, as they were in abundance against Argentina, but the difference is the All Blacks will take the 3 points whilst trying to score 5 (or 7) rather than specifically try to get the penalties.
      And, just to add my 2c worth, this has to be the most balanced rugby blog I’ve come across, even providing fair coverage of the SH teams, so kudos for that!

  27. I see a few people have mentioned James Short. Would you have him instead of Sharples, or start with one and have the other on the bench? Both cracking wingers with loads of pace and bags of potential. Personally I would rather have either of them than Wade, still a bit too young, and not great in defence.

  28. Wouldnt be suprised if a certain Joel Tomkinson was lining up at inside center in a couple of seasons, think he is more likely to make an impact in Union at Sarries than Eastmond will at Bath.

    Cant think of any other country who would leave out the fly half from the champion club in England, who contributed massively to their victorious season, and then shone in the U20 world cup at inside center, as England did with Farrell. He should at least have been in the preliminary squad.

    We are far to sentimental in England – look at NZ, you are picked on form alone, no room for misty eyes and loyalty for performances past, just look how Mils was surpassed by Dagg.

    1. Spot on. And now Wales are selecting in the same way. Suddenly Priestland and Lydiate/Faletau are selected above Hook and Jones because they’re on form.
      Not many of the England players selected in our WC squad had been on form. Some of them hadn’t even been playing: Moody, Youngs, Sheridan, Shaw, Tindall. Shocking really. Will be interesting to see if Tindall can get his place back in the Gloucester team.They are playing very well without him.

      1. Tindall surely has to be put out to pasture now?

        I think that getting dumped out of the World cup was the best thing that could have happened to us as if we’d limped to another final the managment could have claimed they are doing wonders. However MJ has a 50%ish success rate in charge and that would have spelt doom for any top premiership manager long ago.

        As has been abundently show on this thread we have the talent out there to build a very decent side, maybe we should start discussing what the management team should be to get that talent playing?

        1. I don’t like talk of Johnson going for several reasons
          1: Although he only has a slightly above 50% success rate, in the last 10 games, you’re looking at much better – there is improvement, while there is room for some more, I can see it getting better
          2: With all the other crap going on in the mess of the RFU, trying to retain some sort of consistency would be good
          3: I really don’t think Johnson is doing too badly. I think he needs more support from the coaches under him and the management above him so that he can get things in motion
          4: Consistency. If you sack a coach after one bad competition, you’re going to sack them after every competition. It gives the poisoned chalice effect and no one wants to go into a team where they’re gunning for the manager from the start. That’s why we ended up with Johnson, because no one else had the stones to take the job.
          5: If you keep changing your head coach then a team and players never have time to really gel with constant changes in direction. England need to do what they were doing building up to this tournament. Use a simple game plan and get over the line and Johnno’s pressed it pretty well until now.

          I’m a big believer that if New Zealand had sacked Graham Henry 4 years ago they would have reset and they would have been underprepared for this world cup.

          1. You are probably right but I do think that he needs to get rid of the deadwood in both the squad and coaching staff. The talent is there to really challenge for the next world cup we just need to make sure we have the people in place to nuture that talent to fruition

          2. Agreed xxxwookie. Johnson should stay, but I do think that some of the coaching staff need to go. In fact when Johnson took over he should have changed them then. When most managers take over the running of a club, they let go of a lot of the coaches and bring in their own. The reason Johnson didn’t is because he’s never been a coach or a manager, and so didn’t have a team to bring in. Maybe now he’s had time to view Rugby from the coaching side, he will know who should be coaching the team. People like Jim Mallinder, Andy Farrell, Toby Booth should be involved in the coaching set up. These are guys who are involved in day to day training and coaching of players. It’s time for an overhaul of the coaches and players. We’ve got used to losing as many as we win (well, almost) so it won’t hurt to lose a few games while we re-structure.

          3. Yup, surely its time Smith, Ford and Wells went (especially Wells). One world cup final aside, they have not exactly been unqualified successes

          4. Whilst I have great respect for MJ as a player and captain his lack of experience at a coaching/managment level is clearly evident.

            I agree a number of players should now leave the set up and perhaps there was an air of relationship between MJ and certain individuals.

            Maybe one solution would be to bring in an established successful manager/coach with international experience and get him to work with MJ through to the next world cup, hence retaining some continuity but also an experienced mind. I’m sure MJ would appreciate this approach.

  29. someone like eddie jones, or jake white would be ideal. but has anyone got the balls to admit they were wrong and ask for their help?

    1. I was Cips’ biggest fan but until he sorts out his defence/attitude he shouldn’t get anywhere near the England squad. I thought last season would be his watershed season but he was shocking apart from one fantastic try.

      If Johnno stays he HAS to re-vamp the squad/playing style for the 6 nations. If it is obvious that he hasn’t learnt from the mistakes of the past few years then he isn’t the man for the job.

      We’ll never know what really goes on behind closed doors – what his real vision is for the team/why he makes certain selections but using the evidence available (performance on the pitch) i don’t think he is the right man for the job.

      1. I think part of the problem was he inherited the team, but didn’t change it when he had the chance. Probably because he knew most of the team personally, as well as the coaches, and it was easier to keep them, than to upset the apple cart and start from scratch (what he should have done). Personally I would like to see him stay, because I believe he can take us forward, but he needs help. Until he can admit that he’s made big mistakes, and asks for that help, England will keep selecting old plodding bulldozers, and struggling for pace and flair.

        There is the basis of a good youthful team as has been pointed out. But the senior players dictate how the game is played on the pitch. For me those senior players are holding back the team, and need to go.

  30. I’m a South African from Cape Town, Springbok supporter but also I have been a huge fan of the England team, growing up watching guys like Guscott, Dallaglio, Rodber, Beal, Leonard, Johnson etc…Now like of Ashton, Hartley, Haskell etc are pretty exciting.

    Was super disappointed with Martin Johnson’s WC squad…above its mentioned that perhaps he knew to many of the guys to well from his playing days… I still rate him as a coach but would like to see him start fresh, new more creative support staff and then the youngsters need time, Owen Farrell, what a player!

    The only things I’m not convinced yet in England is the #10 jersey, really dont know, not to excited about Toby Flood, he’s solid but dont see him as a match winner like a younger Wilkinson, Carter or no x-factor like a Larkham or Cooper… Thought a few years back Danny Cipriani was the man, really hope he can sort out his off the field incidents in Melbourne and live it up on the field come Super 15…will be great if England can have an option of a Flyhalf that performs in Super rugby…

    But otherwise, struggling to watch more Aviva games, we only get one or two of them here on weekends, I really need to learn more about certain younger players and figure out who the other young flyhalves are… Maybe try Owen Farrell there or Brad Barrit, Sharks here used him in 10 often…However hopefully between the two of them they can cover ENG’s #12 gap left my Catt and has meant there has not been much going on in the ENG backs the past 4years… Hopefully Tindall is history now, was great, but hey its over now!

    Cant wait for 6 Nations… Wait I should prob stop worrying about England and start worrying about my Springboks…more than likely a new coach and hopefully one that will pick our best players as well like Schalk Brits, Bismarck Du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen, Johan Sadie, Juandre Kruger etc etc, but I wont bring that topic up here ha-ha

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