Brian Ashton has made just one – yes one – change to the England team for their game against Ireland this weekend. But what a change. Jonny Wilkinson has been dropped from the side for the first time in 9 years and is to be replaced by Danny Cipriani at fly half.
Now nobody can argue that Wilkinson played up to international standard on Saturday but the entire team was utterly useless. To pin the blame entirely on Wilkinson smacks of scapegoating and tokenism and Vainikolo, Balshaw, Vickery and several others can consider themselves extremely fortunate.
Still, let’s look forward to Cipriani taking his bow (assuming he makes it to the starting post this time). He can now claim to be England’s first choice at both fly half and full back – not bad for a 20 year old. Let’s see what he can do.
England: I Balshaw (Gloucester); P Sackey (Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), T Flood (Newcastle), L Vainikolo (Gloucester); D Cipriani (Wasps), R Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps. capt), S Shaw (Wasps), S Borthwick (Bath), T Croft (Leicester), M Lipman (Bath), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: G Chuter (Leicester), M Stevens (Bath), B Kay (Leicester), J Haskell (Wasps), P Hodgson (London Irish), J Wilkinson (Newcastle), M Tait (Newcastle).