Six Nations 2019: England team to play France

Eddie Jones

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones has named his team to face France in their second Guinness Six Nations match on Sunday 10 February at Twickenham Stadium (KO 3pm live on ITV Sport).

Jones has made two changes to the starting XV that beat Ireland last weekend with Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) selected in the second row following the injury to Maro Itoje (Saracens) in Dublin.

Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks) is named on the right wing in place of Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) who will be among the finishers on Sunday. It will be Ashton’s first start in the Six Nations since 2013.

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Joe Launchbury (Wasps) and Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs) are included as finishers for the first time this tournament.

Eddie Jones said: “After the Ireland game we have had to refocus and reset. Players have been very good and certainly by Sunday we’ll be at our best.

“The French are always an interesting side to play against. They are full of talent, they have a lot of unpredictability so it’s hard to prepare tactically against them so we have had a real focus on ourselves.

“It is unfortunate Maro is injured but he has been rehabbing well so we are hopeful he will be back earlier than maybe first predicted. We have got great depth in the squad so Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes will fill his shoes very well.

“We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing; we think he might sneak us a try early in the game. Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he’ll play a significant role for us off the bench.

“We can’t wait to play in front of our supporters, I’m sure they will be buoyant by the first round results and we promise we will play a better game on Sunday.”

England have won nine of the last 12 Six Nations games against France with the Les Bleus only having managed one win at Twickenham in the Six Nations era back in 2005.

England starting XV (555 caps)

15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 26 caps)
14 Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks, 43 caps)
13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
12 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 28 caps)
11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 41 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 66 caps) (c)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 81 caps)

1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 52 caps)
2 Jamie George (Saracens, 33 caps)
3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 18 caps)
4 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 69 caps)
5 George Kruis (Saracens, 28 caps)
6 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 9 caps)
7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 6 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 37 caps)

Finishers (249 caps)

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 8 caps)
17 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 82 caps)
19 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 54 caps)
20 Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 19 caps)
21 Dan Robson (Wasps, uncapped)
22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 52 caps)
23 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 30 caps)

34 thoughts on “Six Nations 2019: England team to play France

  1. Almost as expected, but why would EJ change a so far winning formula? Jack Nowell may feel aggrieved though, esp as Jones has ‘bigged’ him up, not least as the ‘9th fwd’. For the sake of continuity & JN’s (team’s? I might be nxt?) morale, didn’t make that much sense to me to drop him. Unlikely to make a difference in the end however. England, @ home, will replicate last Sat’s tactics of head down fwd (& Tui) charges into contact, suck defenders in, then probably kick it to add further pressure, interspersed with shovelling it wide with the numbers. Also likely to spice with grubbers, chips or the odd kick pass. May additionally see another surprise move or 2, like a short lineout throw returned to the hooker for a dab, nr the oppo goal line. May also ‘overthrow’ to Tui again, although if it’s very wet, this could be deemed too risky. Shouldn’t underestimate France, who confidently skinned Wales in the 1st 1/2, but gifted 2 tries in the 2nd to squander it. All they had to do was keep possession. They didn’t. They lost. And then there was Fiji! Need a coach to instil discipline when they’re under truncheon therapy. England by 115.. er, maybe 15..+?

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    1. The great enigma strikes again. I can only guess at why Nowell has been ditched. He has a lot of “dog” about him which will be useful on Sunday. Maybe it’s a religious thing!
      looks to me like the plan is to run them ragged for 70 then bring on Cole etc to shore things up.
      I’ll reiterate that having a lock and Hughes as the only second and back row cover is asking for a kick in the nads. Hughes is simply not equipped to cover seven or four/five. You are wrong on this Eddie. We got away with it last time. We won’t keep getting the rub of the green.
      One last point, no Cokanasiga off the bench? If France are on their knees in the last twenty, he could’ve caused mayhem.

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      1. Acee, not sure that “ditched” is the right word, given that he is on the bench, and that the coach specifically made reference to his potential impact on the game.

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      2. I don’t think Hughes is there to cover four/five, that’s Launchbury’s job. Hughes is there as back row cover. Billy can cover 6 and Wilson can cover the whole back row. Seems like a good balance to me.

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        1. What happens if Wilson gets injured during the game? I do genuinely feel that certain people are deliberately missing the point about this issue just to contradict me.

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          1. You need to join in with mainstream opinion Acee. Humans are pack animals & as such have a need to belong. If you demur too far from their orthodoxy, people get personal as they feel undermined & insecure. Still, look on the bright side, you haven’t been asked if yr surname is prick or p*nis (obviously more polite than the 1st poster) yet have you? Some mothers do have ’em. Maybe they hadn’t had their nappies changed. The children, not the mothers
            i.e. You can only stick with yr views Acee. If others get vitriolic about them, eff ’em! Oops! Excuse my French. There I go again. Regds.

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            1. i think I made my feelings about deliberate provocation and “trolling” clear after last weeks delivery of ordure Don. I mean, how dare I question anything after we had just trampled the Irish into their own turf? I should be burned at the stake for herecy!
              (the bench is still totally wrong btw!).

              1. Yes, well I did notice that 1 blogger, Jake I think (could have checked, but will after as engaged right now), became personal & subjective when commenting on yr concerns about selection, as being something like, ‘increasingly irrelevant’. Well, they’re relevant to you Acee & some others (like Pablito e.g.) & particularly as we apparently live in the ‘free world’, you have the right to express them. Besides, they’re TRB’s life blood, so keep calm & carry on.

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          2. Acee you are absolutely correct. It is wildly unbalanced and has the potential to badly bite us in the arse at some point.
            Since when has BV played 6?
            How would a back row that includes two specialist big number 8’s be balanced?
            As last week showed, it is entirely possible to end up with a back 5 of a.n. other lock / Wilson, Hughes, Vunipola and Curry.
            In a tight game or a losing breakdown battle, that could be the death of us.
            It’s just like EJ’s previous insistence on playing locks at 6 – at least it finally occured to him that wasn’t a good idea.
            Also and just to add to it, I don’t think Hughes is good enough
            Equally Daly at fb is going to hurt us at some point. He was good in attack last week but poor again defensively. God alone knows why the Irish kept kicking at May rather than him!
            EJ does seem to get a bit stubborn on some of these selection decisions

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          3. Goddamnit I wrote a whole post in support of Acee and it’s disappeared into the ether.
            Anyway, short version:
            Acee right
            Badly unbalanced
            Since when has BV ever played 6?
            Could well bite us on the rear end
            Hughes not good enough
            PS – pls stop with Daly at fb

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          4. I would think you move Lawes to 6 and bring on Launchbury in the second row, though I do see your point Acee. It would certainly not be a like for like substitution, but the fact that he is not giving Shields game time suggests that he has not impressed. I do think that an all round hard working back rower on the bench such as Armand or Kvesic would give a slightly better balance but EJ obviously sees more in Hughes than most of us do.

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              1. If you bring on Launchbury and move Lawes to 6 Don, they are both capable jumpers, as is Shields I believe, though you would know more than I do about that.

                1. Andy L. Well, Lawes can jump alright, but he’s out of position. I think Kvesic, who seems to be an 8 now @ Exe, may too do so. Dunno about Armand. However, as EJ hasn’t picked the latter 2, they’re unlikely to feature now. Shields has recently come back from injury & can be a line out option. However, with an ‘established’ available b/row now, Jones, being conservative @ heart, is unlikely to change his squad. Therefore, yr suggestion of Lawes moving to 6, if necessary, seems a viable, albeit stop gap, one.

    2. Horses for courses would be my guess, otherwise the decision to drop Nowell is baffling. Could it have been a last minute reaction change to France’s fielding centres on the wings vis-à-vis Ashton’s pace v Nowell’s? England side was announced after France’s….*slowly removes tin foil hat*

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      1. I’m not sure Don. France are the great schizophrenics of Int’l rugby. If their heads are right we could struggle.

        1. Well, as you know Acee, I’m a known neutral here, esp to the chief cook & bottle washer upstairs (no, I don’t actually mean God, but..?), so, although you’re wise to be cautious regarding France’s threat. I read somewhere that they haven’t won @ HQ since 2005 (? I think). You can never tell of course & should never dismiss the opposition completely, but I just see home advantage, France’s erratic & poor recent form & also with too many of their players out of position, England ought to prevail. Could be wrong. I was last Sat v Ireland, but I’d bet someone else’s house on England this time.

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          1. i guess I’m just one of life’s pessimists don!
            Cheers to Pablito for the ongoing support regarding Ed’s insistence that Hughes, who is a bout as nimble as a breeze block, could conceivably cover the 7 position!

            1. You don’t watch & listen to enough Monty Python sketches & songs then Acee. You make a lot of sense, but EJ just isn’t entirely rational I fear & unfortunately he clearly doesn’t read enough of yr TRB comments either. Destress by 5 pm Sun?

              1. i love Python but i’ll be honest, it took me a few reads of that comment before the penny dropped! I might change my name to Gumby!

  2. Typical EJ really, bigging a player up one weekend and dropping him to the bench the next. I had hoped he might surprise us by picking Nowell at full back. He has played well there for Exeter, and I do like the aggression he brings. Agree with Pablito that Daly is NOT a full back. If he´s going to play anywhere it should be at 13. He got away with it last week because Ireland kicked so badly, but if it is wet and Parra has his kicking boots on he may be sorely exposed. I don´t rate Ashton´s defence very highly either, which leaves two of the back three looking vulnerable. I would have started with Lawes and Launchbury, who were the starting England pair before Itoje came along and always combined well together. Plenty of go-forward in the pack but if Cole is not going to start I don´t see him as an impact player. Williams gets around the park better. Hope Robson gets plenty of game time, but I still don´t think that either he or Youngs drive a pack or get the ball away as quickly as well as Danny Care who has been in good form. I think England will try to run the legs out of the massive French pack for 50 minutes and cut loose towards the end. Wales were awful last week, but their superior fitness was definitely a factor and I think the same will apply with England. England by 16, though after being so wrong last week I say that with no confidence at all!

    1. Much of what you state makes sense Andy L. However, why are the Welsh fitter than France? Do the French not bother to train hard enough? How can you actually tell? The difference was surely Huget’s gift & the intercept pass. These were tangibles & not to do with fitness surely?

      1. Three reasons I think Don. Firstly the organisation of the Welsh game means that the National coaches have more consistent influence on individual fitness programmes than the French management do. Those playing in the Premiership tend to be with top clubs who have advanced sophisticated fitness programmes. Secondly, the French club game has gone totally for massive forwards who are only scheduled to last 50 minutes before being subbed. It looks to me when watching French club rugby as if many of them carry a couple of stones of fat and struggle to last the distance. Thirdly, Gatland has been in post a lot longer than the constantly changing French management and has emphasised fitness right from the start of his reign within a squad that changes generically rather than the “night of the long knives” approach that has infected French selection for the past ten years. Fit players continue to perform skills at a high level for longer and you might argue that fitness very often becomes an issue between sides of similar abilities.

        1. Ok, Andy, but do you know these for facts? I mean how does this tally with most Welsh, English this teams’ exit from Europe? Are they not fit enough? Also, as there’s more money in the French game, they tend to buy in droves of off shore players which suppresses the ‘natives” opportunities @ Int’al level. Additionally, is the Fr coaching, selection up to it? For example playing centres in the back 3 & bringing back Bastareaud don’t seem like sound choices to me. You may have a point, but I suspect that there’s more to it than just fitness?

        2. Andy L. During this afternoon’s match, I didn’t particularly see any Fr ‘fatties’, Bastareaud apart i.e. Apart from their porous ‘D’, lack of line out, fragile scrum, intermittent breakdown, lack of attack, kicking lamentably long or Inappropriately, I thought they were quite good. The stat showing Fr possession as being c. 60% (maybe this was for a 5 sec slice of the game, or when I went for a ‘rest’ break?), was as surprising as Brunel still being in his job! The only discernible fat was, surely, inside Brunel’s head!

  3. Feeling nervous about today. Replacing Nowell for Ashton is potentially very risky especially given we have Daly at fullback. Parra wasn’t great last week but I fear will find form for le crunch. The back 3 increase my nerves and I would be a lot happier with Nowell there who is exactly the kind of hard tough player we need for this kind of game.
    .

    1. Or I need to visit Spec Savers, Andy. I deliberately looked out for these gr8, lumbering, lard arsed, Fr lummoxes you mentioned, but I have to confess that I couldn’t spot one. Certainly none whom leapt out at me anyway. Props included! Blimey. 1 of of us must have the wrong end of the Fr loaf.

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