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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess was included in England’s final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup announced on Thursday just 10 months after changing codes from rugby league.

Burgess, the man-of-the-match in South Sydney Rabbitohs’ win in the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final, was included after playing just 70 minutes of Test rugby union – his debut in a 19 / 14 win over France at Twickenham a fortnight ago seeing him sin-binned for 10 minutes.

The 26-year-old edged out the more experienced Luther Burrell for a place among England coach Stuart Lancaster’s centres even though Burgess spent much of last season playing as a back-row forward for Bath.

Henry Slade, who also impressed on his debut against France at Twickenham, was also included in midfield alongside Burgess – although Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt appear to be England’s 1st-choice centres.

Ben Morgan, only recently returned from a broken leg, was included among the back-row forwards with Harlequins veteran Nick Easter missing out while Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani, as was widely forecast, also failed to make it to the final squad.

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EnglandWith England’s recent loss to France in Paris the Springboks have bumped up 1 place to 4th in the World Rugby rankings.

The Spriongboks slumped to a lowly 5th place in the World of their loss to Argentina in Durban during The Rugby Championship, however Rugby World Cup hosts England have now claimed that spot.

With 1 match to go before the start of the Rugby World Cup, England find themselves in danger of going into the tournament ranked lower than Pool A rivals Australia and Wales.

Stuart Lancaster’s men are now just 1.3 points ahead of 6th-placed Wales, who travel to Dublin to play Ireland on Saturday. England conclude their Rugby World Cup warm-up campaign against the Irish the following weekend.

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Danny Cipriani scoring against France

Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani will be left out of England’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

The 27-year-old impressed off the bench in the defeat by France last weekend, but has not done enough to be included in Stuart Lancaster’s final party.

Owen Farrell and George Ford are set to be named as the 2 flyhalves, with Mike Brown and Alex Goode as the fullbacks, leaving no place for Cipriani.

The squad will be confirmed on Thursday at 14:45 SA Time (13:45 BST, 12:45 GMT).

The tournament, held in England and Wales, gets under way on 18 September.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

Regular England captain Chris Robshaw was restored to the side for the World Cup hosts’ 2nd warm-up match.

England play France in Paris on Saturday.

The Harlequins flank was 1 of 14 changes made by coach Stuart Lancaster to his starting side – with only try-scoring wing Jonny May retained from the 15 that ran out to defeat France 19 / 14 at Twickenham last weekend.

Robshaw will form a back row alongside veteran James Haskell and Billy Vunipola.

It is the same loose forward trio which started the final match of last season’s Six Nations against France, with 12 of that 15 – which won 55 / 35 at Twickenham 5 months ago, a result that still wasn’t good enough for England to clinch the title – lining up in Paris.

There was no place in the matchday 23 for either former Rugby League star Sam Burgess or fellow centre Henry Slade, who both impressed on their Test debuts against France last weekend.

Instead Lancaster has reverted back to his tried and trusted centre partnership of Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph, leaving open the question of who will provide midfield cover in a Rugby World Cup squad that must be named by 31 August.

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SpringboksSA Schools coach Hein Kriek and his SA Schools A counterpart Lance Sendin on Monday made wholesale changes to their starting line-ups for the 2nd Round of the Under 18 International Series at Outeniqua Park in George on Tuesday.

The SA Schools team will take on France at 17:00 SA Time and the SA Schools A team will go up against England at 13:00 SA Time.

In the other clash Wales will take on Italy at 15:00 SA Time.

Kriek made 7 changes to his team, which sees 2014 Coca-Cola Craven Week player of the year Curwin Bosch move from flyhalf to fullback, while flyhalf Damian Willemse will join forces with scrumhalf Embrose Papier in a new halfback combination.

The other changes in the backline were on the left wing where Wandisile Similane replaces Manie Libbok and centre Heino Bezuidenhout is selected alongside Stedman Gans, who scored 2 tries in their opening fixture against Wales.

Up-front Kriek retained the flanker combination of Cobus Wiese and captain Ersnt van Rhyn, while Hacjivah Dayimani has been selected at No 8. In the engine room lock Ruben van Heerden will start alongside Ruben de Villiers.

Ashwyn Adams, meanwhile, will start at loosehead prop in a strong front row with tighthead prop Carlu Sadie and hooker Johan Grobbelaar.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess will make his England debut at centre when Stuart Lancaster’s side host France on Saturday.

The former Great Britain rugby league player is one of three debutants, with centre Henry Slade and flanker Calum Clark the other new faces in the 15.

Head coach Lancaster says Saturday’s match is the final chance for some of his players to impress before he selects his 31-man World Cup squad.

“The following week we’ll probably change a lot,” he said

Burgess, 26, started his union career in midfield for Bath before switching to the back row.

Former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson has questioned Burgess’s “game-management” at inside centre, but Lancaster described the former South Sydney player, who switched codes last October, as a ball carrier who could threaten the gain line.

“It’s an option for us to look at and it’ll be an interesting insight to see whether it goes well at the weekend or not,” he said.

“It’s about what’s right for the team. We’ll see if he can translate what he does in training and see how it goes.”

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Stedman Gans - SA Scools

Stedman Gans – SA Scools

The SA Schools and SA Schools A teams on Friday started the Under 18 International Series on a high note at the City Park Stadium in Crawford, Cape Town, as they registered encouraging victories against Wales and Italy respectively to make their presence felt early on.

The SA Schools team delivered a solid performance on attack and defence against Wales for a 42 / 11 victory, while the SA Schools A side overcame a closely-fought 1st half against Italy for 29 / 14 win.

In the other clash England defeated France 15 / 7.

The teams will battle it out in the 2nd Round in George on Tuesday before returning to the City Park Stadium on Saturday 15 August for the closing Round of the Series.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has culled 5 players from his original wider squad for their next training camp in Denver.

The unlucky soles are Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje, Stephen Myler, Nick Easter and Ed Slater.

Daly, Slater, Itoje and Myler will return to their clubs to be on standby, while Easter is suffering from a back injury and will return to Harlequins for treatment, before rejoining the squad on 2 August following their post-Denver break.

Bad boy Danny Cipriani is still in the mix as Lancaster is waiting on the outcome of the drink-driving case before he makes a decision on the flyhalf.

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England Rugby World Cup 2015 jersey

England Rugby World Cup 2015 jersey


Hosts England will have a 3D look at the World Cup, following the unveiling of their jersey on Monday.

England put the unveiling of the innovative England jersey in the hands of their most committed supporters, with more than 3 600 fans publishing the exclusive 1st image of the new shirt across their Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds.

England captain Chris Robshaw was then joined by his teammates to officially reveal the team kit to the assembled media at Twickenham Stadium, before meeting with a number of core fans.

The new shirt features a range of innovations that have been developed through more than 220 hours of testing and over 250 000 miles of travel to improve both the look, feel and performance of the kit.

The rose symbolises the connection between the fans and the players and between former internationals who have worn the shirt and those who wear it now. In a striking innovative twist the rose has been 3D injection moulded, developed through rapid prototyping technology to standout in a way that merits the significance of the rose for players and fans alike. The shirt also features contoured ‘ball deadening’ grip placement to complement the players’ physique.

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EnglandAustraliaThe Wallabies will play England in a blockbuster 3-Test series in Australia in June 2016, the Australian Rugby Union announced on Friday.

It will be 1st time in the century-old rivalry between Australia and England that the 2 nations will meet in a 3-Test series. The teams last met on 3 occasions in the same year in 2010, although just 2 matches were played on Aussie soil as part of England’s inbound tour.

Michael Cheika’s men will play their old rivals for the Cook Cup in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Australian Rugby Union CEO, Bill Pulver said: “With a rivalry that dates back to 1909, it is remarkable that Australia and England have never before played a 3-match series and the history of this occasion is sure to add to the anticipation for the tour.

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New ZealandEnglandNew Zealand (11) 21 / 16 (10) England (Final Score)

New Zealand Under 20 and England Under 20 did battle in the Final of the World Rugby

Under 20 Chamionship at Stadio Giovanni Zine, Cremora at 20:30 SA Time

(20:30 Italy Time, 18:30 GMT). This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.


New Zealand:

  • Penalties – Otere Black (3)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Vince Tavae-Aso (1), Akira Ioane (1)
  • Conversions – Otere Black (1)


  • Penalties – Rory Jennings (3)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Matt Clark (1)
  • Conversions – Rory Jennings (1)



South AfricaFranceJnr Springboks (28) 31 / 18 (8) France (Final Score)

The South African Junior Springboks and France Under 20 did battle in the 3rd Place play-off match

of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship at Stadio Giovanni Zini, Cremora at 18:35 SA Time

(18:35 Italy Time, 16:35 GMT). This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.


Jnr Springboks:

  • Penalties – Brandon Thompson (1)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Thomas du Toit (1), Jason Jenkins (1), Dan du Preez (2)
  • Conversions – Brandon Thompson (4)


  • Penalties – Lucas Meret (1)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Arthur Bonneval (1), Julien Delannoy (1), Lucas Blanc (1)
  • Conversions – 0

South AfricaEnglandJnr Springboks (6) 20 / 28 (18) England (Final Score)

The South African Junior Springboks and England Under 20 did battle in a semi-final in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship at Stadio San Michele, Calvisano at 20:30 SA Time (20:30 Italy Time, 19:30 BST, 18:30 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.


Other matches – Fixtures & Results:

Australia 31 / 21 Scotland (Final Score)
New Zealand 45 / 7 France (Final Score)


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SpringboksJunior Springbok coach Dawie Theron made 2 changes to his match-23 for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship semi-final against defending champions England on Monday evening in Calvisano, Italy.

DHL Western Province flank Rikus Bothma takes over the No 6 jersey from his provincial team mate Jacques Vermeulen, while Malcolm Jaer (EP Kings) replaces Grant Hermanus (DHL WP) on the bench.

The rest of the match squad who defeated Australia in Calvisano last Wednesday, were kept unchanged.

Theron said the changes are part of the team’s rotational policy.

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EnglandEngland players have been dangled a large financial carrot ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The home side’s players have been offered a performance bonus of just over £ 100 000.00 (R 1.9m) each if they win the title, according to the Daily Mail website.

The financial incentive is believed to be more than 6 times greater than the £ 16 000.00 (R 300 000.00) reward that was on offer for winning this year’s Six Nations tournament – which they missed out on in dramatic fashion as Ireland triumphed.

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SaracensOwen Farrell helped himself to a personal tally of 18 points, as Saracens got their hands back on the Premiership trophy, beating Bath 28 / 16 and becoming the 1st side to finish outside the Top 2 in the regular season and go on to be crowned champions.

Saracens got off to a flying start as flyhalf Farrell touched down after only 6 minutes and England teammate Jamie George followed him over the whitewash shortly after.

And Chris Wyles added a 3rd try as Saracens went into the break 25 / 3 ahead, Bath having just a solitary George Ford penalty on hte board.

But Bath, appearing in their 1st Premiership Final since 2004, came out stronger after the break and Jonathan Joseph’s try and the boot of Ford got them back into the contest as they trailed 16 / 25 with a quarter of the game to go.

However, man-of-the-match Ford stretched Saracens lead with a penalty and from then on Mark McCall’s men never looked like relinquishing their lead as they got their hands back on the trophy for the 1st time since 2011.

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Barbarians RugbyJoe Launchbury and Ed Slater will resume their international careers by lining up for an England XV against the Barbarians today (Sunday).

The lock pairing will feature in a side captained by scrum-half Lee Dickson, and with Mathew Tait at fullback.

The squad features 10 players from Stuart Lancaster’s initial World Cup squad, including Danny Cipriani at No 10.

New Zealand’s World Cup-winning forward Brad Thorn skippers an experienced BaaBaas side at Twickenham.

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EnglandEngland head coach Stuart Lancaster has named 10 players from his World Cup training group in a squad of 24 to play the Barbarians next Sunday Twickenham.

The England side will be captained by experienced scrumhalf Lee Dickson, who has 18 international caps to his name, and who also led the England Saxons team to victory against the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork earlier this year.

The other World Cup training squad members named are Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) and Marland Yarde (Harlequins).

The fixture will provide an opportunity for those who narrowly missed out on initial selection for the 50-man training squad to press their claims as well as allowing a number of up-and-coming players to work with Lancaster and his senior coaching group.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Stuart Lancaster has announced England’s extended training squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The 50-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 22 June to begin preparing for the tournament, which starts against Fiji, at Twickenham, on Friday 18 September.

England will also face France home and away and Ireland at Twickenham as part of the QBE Internationals as they build towards the World Cup.

Five eye-catching inclusions are Luke Cowan-Dickie, Maro Itoje, Sam Burgess, Elliot Daly and Henry Slade, all of whom featured in an 18 / 9 victory for England Saxons over Ireland Wolfhounds back in January.

Calum Clark and Ed Slater bring the tally of uncapped players to 7. Each of them will be vying for a Test debut.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Springbok loose forward Francois Louw is backing his Bath teammate Sam Burgess to make his debut for England on the flank.

Rugby League convert Burgess has impressed since moving to the back row from the centres, and is widely tipped to be included in England’s pre-World Cup training squad – which will be named on Wednesday.

“I don’t think Sam will struggle at international level,” said Louw. “He will hold his own.”

“Stuart Lancaster has his hands full with loose forwards, but it’s not going to be too long before Sam makes his international debut on the flank.”

“Maybe it will be at this year’s World Cup and I’ll see him there.”

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Aviva PremiershipEnglish Premiership organisers have confirmed the teams and venues for the 2015 Aviva Premiership Semi-finals.

Both Semi-finals will be played next Saturday on 23 May 2015 and the kick-off times will be at 14:00 BST (15:00 SA Time) and 17:00 BST (18:00 SA Time) and both will be broadcast on BT Sport in the UK.

Northampton Saints will host Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens in the 1st Semi-final.

In the 2nd Semi-final Bath will host Leicester Tigers at the Recreation Ground.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England rugby union player Manu Tuilagi will not play in the World Cup after admitting assaulting police officers, head coach Stuart Lancaster has said.

The Leicester Tigers centre, 23, was fined £ 6 205.00 when he appeared before magistrates.

He had been charged with 2 counts of assaulting a police officer, assault by beating and causing criminal damage, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Lancaster said he would not be considered for England until January.

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Brad Barritt

Brad Barritt

Saracens and England centre Brad Barritt has committed his future to the club signing a long-term deal at Allianz Park.

The 28-year old is the latest Saracen to commit his future to the north Londoners, following the likes of Marcelo Bosch, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and George Kruis in signing contract extensions.

On signing his new deal, Barritt said: “I’m absolutely delighted to stay a part of the Saracens family. I consider this place home and I’m really looking forward to the years ahead with this fantastic club.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi is set to miss the rest of the Aviva Premiership season because of a groin injury but should be fit for the World Cup, his Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill said.

The 23-year-old, who has won 25 caps and scored 11 tries for England, is still recovering from the injury he sustained in October.

England’s World Cup campaign begins against Fiji on 18 September, but they play France at home and away in August before hosting Ireland at Twickenham on 5 September.

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Saracens, LV Cup champions

Ben Spencer kicked a last-ditch penalty to win the LV Cup for Saracens.

After a pulsating second half which saw 5 tries scored, Spencer had the kick with the scores at 20 / 20 with time up on the clock and the scrumhalf kept his nerve to win the trophy for the 1st time in the club’s history.

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SIX-NationsSomewhere, shaking his cauliflower ears in dismay, a grizzled old retired prop was probably secretly wishing someone would just stick the ball up his jumper and make a cautious 3 inches.

For everyone else watching this was surely the most thrilling day that 5 or 6 Nations rugby has seen: a fantasy finale, a chest-squeezer and knee-knocker, a day to fall back in love.

There are the stats: 221 points scored across the 3 matches, the most in a single weekend – 27 tries, run in from deep and wide and everywhere in between.

There was England’s record score against France, Ireland’s biggest away win, the most tries Wales have scored in 1 championship half.

Then there was the style. This was rugby we thought had died and been laid to rest, killed by detailed analysis and the professional urge to be sensible.

Sensible? This was glorious chaos, March madness to put a spring in every watcher’s step and an ulcer in the stomach of every defence coach.

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Edward Griffiths

Edward Griffiths

The Board of Saracens and Edward Griffiths announced that, following seven very successful years with the club, the CEO will be leaving at the end of the season to pursue new opportunities.

“After seven years as CEO Edward is moving on,” Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray said.

“He has created and leaves an outstanding and beautiful new permanent home for Saracens, and a team of people with a real caring and community focus and we will build upon this legacy.

“Edward will forever be a Saracen and always welcome amongst his friends at Allianz Park.”



SIX NationsIt should be a 3-way fight between England, Ireland and Wales for the Six Nations title on Saturday, although France still have an outside chance.

The Top 3 are locked on 6 Points with 3 wins apiece, while England’s points difference of +37 puts them 1st, ahead of Ireland’s +33 and Wales’ +12.

France are 4th with 4 Points and a points difference of +22.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s side could still steal the title if Wales and Ireland lose and Les Bleus then beat England by a margin of 8 points or more, but it looks a remote possibility.

If teams are level on points, and match-points difference, then England are likely to win the Championship on tries scored, having crossed 11 times to Ireland’s 4 and Wales’ 5. In the highly unlikely event this was also level come Saturday night, the trophy would be shared.

Wales are in action 1st away to Italy in Rome (14:30 SA Time, 12:30 GMT), before Ireland take on Scotland at Murrayfield (16:30 SA Time, 14:30 GMT), ahead of England’s home match against France at Twickenham (19:00 SA Time, 17:00 GMT).

With the Six Nations wide open, we assess the 4 teams’ chances.

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EnglandLeicester lock Geoff Parling was recalled by England coach Stuart Lancaster for Saturday’s decisive Six Nations showdown with France at Twickenham.

Parling comes into the second row in place of Dave Attwood, who drops out of the squad, in the only change to the starting 15 that overcame Scotland 25 / 13 last weekend.

Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter returns to the bench.

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Aviva PremiershipPremiership Rugby’s bid to increase the size of the top flight to 14 clubs and suspend relegation for an unspecified number of seasons, forms a cornerstone of its negotiations with Twickenham over a new elite-player agreement.

Any change to replace the deal that runs out next year would have to be agreed by the Rugby Football Union’s 60-strong council.

The Premiership has resisted calls in the past decade to go up from 12 to 14, not least because each club’s share of central funds would drop, but the change in the way the European Cup is organised has had a significant effect. Other factors to be considered include a new television deal with BT Sport, which kicks in from the 2016 / 2017 season and is worth significantly more than the present contract, together with the extra income that will come with the new elite-player agreement. This will lead to considerably more money for all, even with 2 extra sides.

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BT SportThe television broadcast rights for the English (Aviva) Premiership over the next 6 years have been snapped up by current broadcaster BT Sport.

The new deal means that Aviva Premiership Rugby will be broadcast live on BT Sport until at least the end of the 2020 / 2021 campaign.

Mark McCafferty, the chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said,”BT Sport has been a fantastic partner for English club rugby so we are delighted that we have been able to extend our relationship with them for a further 4 years. This is the longest TV agreement in the history of Premiership Rugby.

“In the 18 months we have been on-air with them our live TV audiences have grown by 50% so it is clear that the partnership is going from strength to strength.

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ScotlandScotland head coach Vern Cotter has named a team with five changes for their penultimate Six Nations Championship match against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Cotter has brought back David Denton, Dougie Fife, Matt Scott, Jim Hamilton and Finn Russell to a Scotland team that are still looking for their first victory this year.

The five players come in to the starting team to replace Johnnie Beattie, knee injury victims Sean Lamont and Alex Dunbar, and Tim Swinson and Peter Horne.

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EnglandLock Courtney Lawes and fullback Mike Brown have been recalled for England’s Six Nations clash with Scotland on Saturday, after recovering from injury, head coach Stuart Lancaster announced on Wednesday.

Northampton forward Lawes has returned to fitness after an ankle problem and is in line to make his first international appearance since England’s 26 / 17 victory over Australia last November.

Harlequins No 15 Brown sat out England’s 9 / 19 defeat by Ireland last time out, after suffering concussion in the 47 / 17 win over Italy, with Alex Goode having taken his place.

Goode drops to the bench, where tighthead prop Kieran Brookes, second row forward Geoff Parling and flank Tom Wood have all been drafted into the matchday squad.

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ScotlandScotland captain Greig Laidlaw has revealed that he and his team-mates have seen a different side of head coach Vern Cotter this week.

The New Zealander has generally been very supportive of his players since taking up the post last summer but, after 3 successive losses in the Six Nations Championship, his patience has worn thin. As the countdown to Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham reaches its final stages, Cotter has become more demanding of the squad, as well as changing his approach to analysing what has been going wrong.

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