Sport | England announce Six Nations squad

20 year old uncapped fly half George Ford has been chosen by Stuart Lancaster to replace Toby Flood in his England squad which was named on Thursday. With Flood swapping Leicester for Toulouse at the end of this season, the England selectors deemed it to be the right time to reward Ford for his mature displays for Bath so far this season.

Ford joins an England Elite Player Squad (EPS) that has been struck by eight injuries ahead of the Six Nations this spring. The rest of the EPS named by Lancaster is unchanged, as only those players in the squad will be able tour New Zealand with England this summer. For that reason, England’s EPS and their Six Nations training squad look rather different.

With props Alex Corbisiero and David Wilson set to miss the Six Nations through injury there are call ups for Wasps’ Matt Mullan and Sale’s Henry Thomas in the front row. Geoff Parling also misses the tournament with a shoulder problem, with cover being provided by Leicester teammate Ed Slater.

In the back row, there is only one difference between the EPS and Six Nations squad as Exeter’s Tom Johnson comes in to replace the injury prone Tom Croft, who sustained knee ligament damage in the autumn.

While England’s backline also has its injury issues- Ben Foden, Christian Wade, Marland Yarde and Manu Tuilagi are all suffering with long term problems- the new faces in the Six Nations Squad should give England fans reason for excitement. Gloucester’s Jonny May joins England U20 graduates Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell in the senior squad as cover on the wings; a trio of exhilarating and elusive runners.

England’s problematic area in recent times has been in the centres. While Brad Barritt has made an encouraging return from injury- albeit behind a dominant Saracens pack- he does not offer the creativity that England at times appear to lack. With the more expansive Billy Twelvetrees struggling for form, there will be many hoping to see Northampton’s Luther Burrell feature at inside centre this spring. He has the power and the handling ability that could allow England to utilise their wide men and, with only 20 games remaining before the World Cup, his chance must come soon.

Directing this exciting array of runners will be two young fly halves.  Owen Farrell and George Ford have both shown impressive form, the latter proving a revelation since his move from Leicester to Bath. There is also recognition for Stephen Myler who has been faultless for Northampton thus far.

There is also rich competition for places at scrum half, with four named among the Six Nations training squad. Richard Wigglesworth, arguably the pick of the group on current form, is the only one to miss out on the EPS but should feature for England in the coming months.

Stuart Lancaster’s squad announcement has shown that while this is an England side struck heavily by injuries, it is one with an exciting depth of young talent with the perfect platform to impress, in the form of the forthcoming Six Nations.

Elite player squad (33) until end of season including summer tour:


Props: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby). Hookers: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers). Locks: David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers). Back-rows: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).


Back three: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Alex Goode (Saracens), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Marland Yarde (London Irish). Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby). Fly-halves: Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby). Scrum-halves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

England Six Nations training squad (35):


Props: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Mako Vunipola (Saracens). Hookers: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers). Locks: David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers). Back-rows: Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).


Back three: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby). Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby). Fly-halves: Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints). Scrum-halves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Image courtesy of

Jack Fairs

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