England coach Steve Borthwick emphasized the significance of “positional flexibility” in the selection process for the Rugby World Cup squad. While announcing the 33-man group for the tournament in France, players like Henry Slade and Alex Dombrandt were left out, highlighting the intense competition for spots.
Borthwick acknowledged the challenge of making choices when there are more deserving players than the limited spots available. He explained that key positions like front row, scrum-half, and fly-half were allocated three players each, leaving other areas of the team requiring versatility and compromise.
The squad’s centers showcase this flexibility, with players like Joe Marchant, Elliot Daly, Ollie Lawrence, and Manu Tuilagi capable of playing in multiple positions. Even Owen Farrell’s ability to play at 10 or 12 adds to the team’s adaptability.
Another talking point was the inclusion of only one specialist number eight, Billy Vunipola, despite his recent injury. Borthwick defended this decision, stating that there’s ample competition and versatility in the back row, with players like Lewis Ludlam, Ben Earl, and Tom Curry able to cover various positions.
The England squad boasts a mix of experienced players from the 2019 World Cup final and young talents, with Henry Arundell, 20, being the youngest member. Captain Owen Farrell emphasized the significance of the tournament and urged the players to make the most of the opportunity to represent their country on the world stage.
For those who narrowly missed the cut, Borthwick assured them of their vital role in the preparation and recognized the tough competition among England’s talented pool of players.
The emotions surrounding the World Cup call-ups were evident as players like Earl and Van Poortvliet shared their experiences. Earl received the news after a sleepless night, while Van Poortvliet’s call to his family led to emotional reactions, particularly from his mother.
England will kickstart their World Cup campaign against Argentina on September 9 in Marseille, with Wales, Ireland, and Fiji as their warm-up opponents before the tournament begins.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Rugby World Cup squad
Q: What was the key consideration for selecting England’s Rugby World Cup squad?
A: The key consideration for selecting the squad was “positional flexibility.” England coach Steve Borthwick emphasized the need for players who can cover multiple positions, especially in areas where only a limited number of players could be chosen.
Q: Who were some notable players left out of the 33-man group?
A: Exeter Chiefs’ Henry Slade and Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt were among the notable players left out of the squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.
Q: How did England’s coach justify the inclusion of only one specialist number eight?
A: Despite having only one specialist number eight, Billy Vunipola, in the squad, Steve Borthwick defended the decision, citing the team’s flexibility in the back row with players like Lewis Ludlam, Ben Earl, and Tom Curry capable of covering multiple positions.
Q: What is the mix of experience and youth in England’s World Cup squad?
A: The squad consists of a mix of experience and youth. Sixteen players from the 2019 World Cup final team have been retained, while versatile Racing 92 back Henry Arundell, aged 20, is the youngest member of the squad.
Q: When and where will England begin their World Cup campaign?
A: England’s World Cup campaign will start on September 9, 2023, in Marseille, with a match against Argentina.