England’s RWC squad analysed 


Pre-cut prediction: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Alex Corbisiero, Dave Atwood, Calum Clark, Nick Easter, Richard Wigglesworth, Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt.

Players cut from squad: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Alex Corbisiero, Dave Atwood, Calum Clark, Nick Easter, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell.

Well the Rugby Drum was almost spot on…

It would have been a fairly troublesome week for England Coach Stuart Lancaster. And it would have been surprising if he got any sleep at all since his team’s loss to France in Paris on Saturday.

Lancaster had some huge decisions to make, particularly in the backs with some captivating performances over the last fortnight from Sam Burgess, Henry Slade and Danny Cipriani giving the head coach a lot to mull over before the World Cup squad announcement.

Half of England’s wingers were released from the last cut and if that was anything to go on, this week’s squad announcement was going to turn a few heads. And it didn’t disappoint.

There were always going to be those who didn’t agree with Cipriani’s exclusion. But Lancaster has made his decision and it’s now up to him and England to prove that it was the right one.


As far as the Rugby Drum’s predictions go in comparison to the actual cut, there isn’t a lot of difference. However where it does differ is the game plan built around some of the actual selections which might place England in a worrying state come the latter stages of the tournament.

In our initial cut, Richard Wigglesworth would have been sacrificed so that the exciting Danny Cipriani could be unleashed, perhaps toward the end of the match when England’s pack needed some new direction and an injection of pace and flair. Lancaster saw it differently and while there is merit in his decision with Wigglesworth being a great player with an extensive skill-set, it’s tough to justify his inclusion over Cipriani’s.

Injuries aside, Wigglesworth isn’t going to play an integral part in England’s campaign, particularly in the knockout stages. And with Ben Youngs and Danny Care establishing themselves as England’s one and two, Wigglesworth might end up a bench warmer by the quarters, should England make it…

Cipriani is arguably in the same boat behind Ford and Farrell. However Lancaster has used him at fullback and he is equally adept at playing inside centre so his flexibility would have been key for England. The last 20 minutes of their match against France in Paris proved what a valuable player he is, especially when you’ve got your back to the wall and you’re looking for a new lease of life.

Would Wigglesworth provide the same impetus? The answer is very unlikely. Wigglesworth is there for the group stages and as cover for any injuries. And though it may have been a risk not to include him, Cipriani has that rare kind of x-factor that can win teams matches. It’s possible that his recent misdemeanour could have swayed a few opinions on his inclusion but either way, it is very disappointing that we won’t see him at the World Cup, a tournament seemingly made for a player of Cipriani’s capabilities.

On the other hand, the inclusion of Burgess and Slade is a huge positive for England. Their chemistry whilst playing together illustrated how much potential they have going forward not only as a combination but as individuals. It was undoubtedly a popular decision but more importantly a decision that demonstrates Lancaster’s willingness to recognise the players in form and pick them on that merit.

If you scrutinised the performances of all England’s centres over both World Cup warm-ups, Burgess’ and Slade’s names would have topped the list so there’s no doubt that they deserve to be part of England’s final squad.

While England’s depth at centre has been emphasised in recent weeks, the decision to pick Brad Barritt over Luther Burrell is a decision that could prove to be costly, particularly when Barritt is yet to play any part in England’s warm up matches. And he could struggle to find his feet and form in an otherwise explosive backline – it only takes one weak link to ruin the chain…

Burrell didn’t do himself too many favours on the weekend where he struggled to find those penetrative attacking lines that have characterised his playing style. But with Burgess included in the team, Barritt should have gone home with Burgess replacing Barritt as the defensive pillar in the England midfield.


Lancaster must now back up the selection by forming a starting XV for England that gets the wheels in motion for a hugely important couple of months, starting with their final World Cup warm-up against Ireland on the 5th of September. To say that it’ll be a tough match is an understatement with Ireland also looking to make a statement before the big show next month. But it is mightily important that England win and do it with a vigour that sends a message to their Pool A opponents.

There is no question that England has the artillery to go all the way, especially with the comfort of playing at a home World Cup. But after the mauling they copped in Paris, they have to come together and regroup for what will be a do-or-die situation. Lancaster’s selection is final, his bed is made. We can only hope that it’s comfortable enough for him to lie in on the final night in October.

Then he might actually get some sleep…