Tag Archives: saxons

Six Nations 2013: Henry Thomas in England squad

Thomas drafted into England squad for Scotland clash as cover for Corbisiero

Mike Dawes


20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013



20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

Henry Thomas has been called into the England squad as injury cover for Alex Corbisiero ahead of next weekend's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham.

Sale Sharks prop Thomas will train with the rest of the England squad at Pennyhill Park ahead of Saturday's match while Corbisiero remains at London Irish for treatment on a knee injury, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed in a statement this evening.

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Harlequins' winger Ugo Monye has also been drafted into the 33-man training squad as Freddie Burns remains at Gloucester for treatment, also with a knee problem.

Meanwhile, the RFU also said Shaun Knight has withdrawn from the England Saxons squad as he, too, must return to Gloucester due to a knee injury.

The Saxons convene in Newcastle tomorrow morning ahead of their match with Scotland A at Kingston Park on Friday.

Ugo Monye claims he has had 10,000 stolen from his bank account

England Saxons winger Monye claims 10,000 was stolen from bank account

Mike Dawes


17:41 GMT, 9 January 2013



17:49 GMT, 9 January 2013

Ugo Monye claims he had 10,000 stolen from his bank account – just hours after being named in the England Saxons squad.

The Harlequins winger took to Twitter to reveal the news, saying: '10k nicked outta my account! Brutal. Cheers Lloyds TSB for being so on the ball… Naaaat.'

He later revealed he spent 75 minutes on the phone fixing the problem.

Theft: Ugo Monye claims to have had 10,000 stolen from his account

Theft: Ugo Monye claims to have had 10,000 stolen from his account

His team-mate Mike Brown responded by admitting he had suffered the same fate.

'Mate that's too weird that mine was done few weeks ago as well! 6k!,' he said.

British Lions centre Jamie Roberts said: 'had that much in your account did you #sorryaboutthat.'

Wasps 10 Worcester 6: Simon McIntyre scores only try

Wasps 10 Worcester 6: Woeful hosts hold on but Hill apologises for shocking match



18:20 GMT, 7 October 2012

Worcester head coach Richard Hill said sorry for a ‘shocker’ of a game that saw Wasps stagger to their third win of the season thanks to Simon McIntyre’s first-half try and a tremendous stint of late defending.

Hill said: ‘I apologise for inflicting that on you. That was a shocker. Neither team played particularly well and we were marginally worse.’

Worcester, who cut Wasps’ 10-0 half-time lead through a penalty and drop goal from Andy Goode, engineered a chance to win in the final five minutes but Goode’s cross kick bounced out of the reach of wing Jon Clarke.

Flying start: McIntyre crosses for Wasps

Flying start: McIntyre crosses for Wasps

Flying start: McIntyre crosses for Wasps

Wasps then stopped two attacking
line-outs through some stern defence and good tackling, culminating in
man of the match Joe Launchbury forcing substitute flanker Ben Cowan to
knock on.

Launchbury, a member of the England Saxons squad, is tipped to be a full international.

The 21-year-old started this match at
blindside flanker but Dai Young, Wasps’ director of rugby, predicted
his best position will be at lock.

‘People talk about him as a star of
the future, but he’s already here. England see his long-term future as a
second row, but with his mobility and skills he can play in both

Young also criticised his team’s performance. ‘I don’t think we would have beaten many teams. We know we have to be better.’

High hopes: Marco Wentzel rises to take gather lineout ball

High hopes: Marco Wentzel rises to take gather lineout ball

Wasps started strongly with a try
after only three minutes. Billy Vunipola and Joe Launchbury made big
inroads into the Worcester defence and good ball retention saw prop
Simon McIntyre drive over for the try which Stephen Jones converted.

Worcester then had their first
opportunity for points but Andy Goode failed to take it as his 35-metre
penalty attempt rebounded back off a post.

came Wasps to put the visitors' defence under sustained pressure in
their own 22 and when the Warriors were offside, Jones made no mistake
with an angled penalty to give his side a 10-point advantage.

After that bright opening, the second quarter of the game was a huge disappointment as both sides made frequent unforced errors which prevented any real flow to the game. There were frequent turnovers as the score deservedly remained at 10-0 to the home side at the interval.

Too Goode: Former England international Andy Goode (right)

Too Goode: Former England international Andy Goode (right)

Early in the second half, a handling
error by Andrea Masi allowed Worcester a position in the Wasps' half and
when the hosts were penalised, a Goode penalty gave Warriors their
first points.

immediately Jones was presented with a chance to nullify that score but
his 45-metre penalty attempt sailed narrowly wide.

With half an hour remaining, Goode reduced the arrears to only four when he fired over a splendid drop-goal from close on 50 metres.

Stung by the two penalties, Wasps resumed their earlier dominance with Launchbury and McIntyre again to the fore with their driving runs. They should have gone further ahead when a clever chip ahead from Simpson should have resulted in a try for Christian Wade but the wing knocked on with the line at his mercy.

Hands off: Joe Launchbury evades a tackle

Hands off: Joe Launchbury evades a tackle

Jones missed another angled penalty
for the Wasps, allowing the Warriors the possibility of an unlikely win.
Inventive play by Paul Hodgson and David Lemi put the visitors into the
Wasps' 22 but Aleki Lutui knocked on and the home side were able to
relieve the pressure.

With three minutes to go, Simpson made the best break of the game, with a sniping run from a ruck on halfway but the supporting Chris Bell was hauled down narrowly short.

This allowed Warriors one final chance but Jon Clarke failed to collect a Goode cross-kick for the winning try before the Wasps withstood four minutes of huge pressure to hang on for a nail-biting win.

Olly Barkley to join Racing Metro 92

Barkley says au revoir to Bath and confirms deal with Racing Metro



13:23 GMT, 20 September 2012

French fancy: Barkley will join Racing Metro at the end of the month

French fancy: Barkley will join Racing Metro at the end of the month

Bath have confirmed that fly-half Olly Barkley will move to French club Racing Metro 92 at the end of the month.

The 30-year-old England international will join the Paris-based outfit as a medical joker after Bath's Premiership fixture against Sale at the Recreation Ground on September 29.

Barkley, who is also available for this weekend's visit to London Irish, paid tribute to the Somerset club but said that moving to France was an offer he could not refuse.

'Bath Rugby is in my heart and it always will be,' Barkley said. 'When I no longer play the game, this will be the club I come to watch.

'I will be forever a Bath boy but this, for me, was simply the opportunity of a lifetime and one I just couldn't ignore. I will miss the club always, and I wish all of my mates here the very best.

He added: 'I'd like to thank the club for their understanding, and also the Bath supporters who have been amazing to me in my time here.'

Barkley, who has won 23 caps but does not feature in the current England Elite or Saxons squads, answers an injury SOS for Racing less than a month from launching a Heineken Cup campaign that sees them in the same group as Saracens, Munster and Edinburgh.

Out of favour: Barkley has not played for England since 2008

Out of favour: Barkley has not played for England since 2008

Juan Martin Hernandez is currently on Rugby Championship duty with Argentina, while two other No 10s – Jonathan Wisniewski and Benjamin Dambielle – are nursing long-term injuries.

The move to France brings to an end Barkley's second spell with Bath after he rejoined them from Gloucester in 2009.

His latest stint at the Rec saw him suffer a broken leg on two separate occasions, but he is now fully fit and had appeared to be a key part of a squad under the coaching direction of South African Gary Gold.

'Barks is a great bloke and a top player. I could not have been more impressed with both his attitude and his incredibly professional approach since I arrived at the club,' said Gold.

'Every now and then an offer lands on the table that a bloke just can't refuse. We are sorry to see him go, but he goes with our blessing. He will always be welcome here.'

Bath have also confirmed they have signed hooker Brett Sharman on a short-term loan as injury cover for Rob Webber.

England restore pride in Port Elizabeth

Pride is restored in Port Elizabeth but now Lancaster must deliver the big scalp



21:00 GMT, 24 June 2012

The last time England conducted a review in the aftermath of a major overseas expedition, it led to a very public, very damaging frenzy of accusations and bloodletting. There will be no such fallout on this occasion.

While the post-World Cup inquest uncovered systemic failings which required urgent remedial action, the analysis of the trip to South Africa will be far less explosive.

Two Test defeats, two midweek victories and a gallant draw in the series finale on Saturday amounts to a middling return – a pass mark at a push, but an indication that a young, raw squad can emerge as a force in time.

Try time: Danny Care gives England a first-half lead in Port Elizabeth

Try time: Danny Care gives England a first-half lead in Port Elizabeth

Head coach Stuart Lancaster will take stock over the next week before naming revised EPS senior and Saxons squads, with the peace of mind that his employers are satisfied with progress.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie offered a measured endorsement on Sunday, saying: ‘We want to win every game and we look at what happened on that basis. That said, I think we achieved a lot. Yesterday’s performance was a committed one, to come here and get a draw.

‘History proves how difficult it is to come to this place and win, yet in all three games (Tests) we were competitive, committed and we will do better. We can look forward to the autumn series with confidence.’

That assessment allows Lancaster breathing space to shuffle his playing cards, then tackle the pressing issue of finalising a long-term coaching staff, with Andy Farrell’s return seemingly a formality. The head coach’s own appraisal of this tour and series was that it proved England have ‘strong foundations’.

It is crucial the solid but unspectacular returns here are viewed in such terms. This exercise has provided the team with what should be regarded as a starting position – a reference point for what lies ahead.

They have been given a stark indication of what is required to compete at the sharp end, not in the relative comfort of the European game but in contests with the southern elite.

Close call: Farrell (left) missed a late drop goal

Close call: Farrell (left) missed a late drop goal

What they have done is to establish a platform of do-or-die collective resolve – on a higher level to anything in the Six Nations.

Their spirit and courage is not in doubt, but so much more is required if England are to make sufficient progress to win two or three of their four autumn Tests – against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – as they should. Mike Catt paid Lancaster the compliment of saying that, in six months, he has fostered the sort of positive culture and environment it took Sir Clive Woodward three years to create. Well, that has to remain a constant in England’s make-up, one of those minimum standards.

Lancaster acknowledged that the finer points must be addressed for further development to take place, saying: ‘I’m pleased with the strength we have, with the players looking forward to playing for England. The next step is to get the detail right in terms of how we make the players world class, how we help them physically, tactically, mentally, and how they fine-tune that to enable them to win.’

James Haskell was one of those players who rose to the challenge of meeting the Springbok juggernaut head on in Saturday’s stalemate. Having given body and soul to a stirring defensive effort, the Otago Highlanders back-rower suggested England have become better at answering questions, but need to be more adept at asking them too.

‘Put the physical battle to one side, we’ve got to be a bit more creative in attack,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to test teams more. We’ve got the ability in terms of the physicality and the quality to finish, but it’s difficult when you keep attacking and they have 13 guys on their feet all the time.

Plenty to ponder: Lancaster (right) will name a revised EPS squad

Plenty to ponder: Lancaster (right) will name a revised EPS squad


SOUTH AFRICA: Aplon; Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt), Olivier, Habana;
Steyn, Hougaard (Pienaar 50min); Mtawarira, B du Plessis (Strauss 63),
J du Plessis (W Kruger 76); Etzebeth (Van der Merwe 76), J Kruger;
Coetzee, Spies, Potgieter (Kankowski 54).
Try: Pietersen. Pens: M Steyn 3.

ENGLAND – Try: Care. Pens: Flood, Farrell 2. Sin-bin: Hartley.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand).

Attendance: 46,000.

‘We’ve got to be a bit smarter to tie
more guys in, then we can let the likes of (Chris) Ashton and Manu
(Tuilagi) run at holes instead of running at people.’

were again guilty of conceding possession far too readily with aimless
tactical kicking. While there has been much talk of ‘exit strategies’ on
this trip, it appeared an almost criminal offence to send the ball
straight back to South African runners, having expended so much energy
winning it. Sure, there is a need to secure attacking territory, but
there was a lack of balance and common sense. No matter how many times
in-field kicks served no positive purpose, Owen Farrell in particular
kept repeating the process.

have Jonathan Joseph at No 13 and for a second week in succession fail
to set him running into space was a waste of a promising asset. Only in
the latter stages, in an attempt to strike the telling blow, did the
visitors trust their carriers, keep hold of the ball and realise that
doing so was a bright idea.

Care’s try had given them a deserved advantage and with Morne Steyn
missing three of his six shots at goal, England had victory within their
grasp in front of a restless home crowd in the closing seconds, but
Farrell’s drop-goal attempt was horribly wayward.

While disappointed they hadn’t quite claimed a first win over the Boks since 2006, Lancaster and his players could take comfort from avoiding a series whitewash, which both Ireland and Wales did not manage.

The head coach is allowing one more year for the endless lessons to sink in before he expects England to be settled and building momentum, but in reality – with a World Cup seeding at stake – they must start passing Tests in November.

ENGLAND average rating.jpg

ENGLAND average rating.jpg

George Lowe ruled out of remainder of South Africa tour

Crocked Lowe out of South Africa tour with ankle injury



14:01 GMT, 16 June 2012

Harlequins back George Lowe is to return home from England's tour of South Africa due to an ankle ligament injury.

Gloucester's Jonny May has been called up as a replacement and will join up with the squad in Johannesburg this morning.

Lowe, 22, was forced off early in the second half of an England XV's 54-26 win over the Southern Barbarians in Kimberley on Wednesday.

End of the road: Crocked Lowe has been forced to return home

End of the road: Crocked Lowe has been forced to return home

He had earlier scored one of England's eight tries having been included in the side as a late replacement for David Strettle, who was rested ahead of the second Test against South Africa.

He will now return home for further medical assessment after undergoing a scan. May, 22, flew out to South Africa overnight.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster said: 'It's a shame for George because he had a good game against the Southern Barbarians until he was injured. “But this is an opportunity for another young player who has come up through our age grade programme and into the Saxons to gain some valuable international tour experience.'

Over the line: Lowe scored one of eight tries for England on Wednesday

Over the line: Lowe scored one of eight tries for England on Wednesday

Lowe follows two other players in having his tour ended prematurely.

Full-back Mike Brown was ruled out after suffering a thumb ligament injury in last week's first Test and was replaced by Nick Abendanon.

Forward Joe Launchbury returned home before the first game with a knee injury. Jamie Gibson took his place in the squad.

Delon Armitage tipped for England recall

London Irish coach Smith backs Armitage for England recall despite France move



21:00 GMT, 16 April 2012

On his way; Armitage is leaving London Irish in the summer

On his way: Armitage is leaving London Irish in the summer

Delon Armitage has been backed to make England’s 2015 World Cup team despite his decision to join Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon.

Armitage, 28, has quit London Irish for France after a string of disciplinary issues, including four suspensions in the past 15 months and a police caution for a nightclub incident following England Saxons’ game at Exeter in January.

But Irish’s new director of rugby, Brian Smith, the former England assistant coach, believes the full back can return to claim a place at the 2015 World Cup.

‘We would welcome him back with open arms,’ Smith said. ‘My advice is for him to go to France to get the frustrations out of his system, play a lot of rugby then come back because on his day he is the best full back in England.’

He added: ‘I have no doubt he can launch a bid to play for England again.’

Armitage, who won the last of his 26 England caps at the World Cup last year, claimed he had been ‘victimised’ after his run-ins with the game’s authorities.

Exiles: Armitage joins Jonny Wilkinson and brothers Steffon and Guy at Toulon

Exiles: Armitage joins Jonny Wilkinson and brothers Steffon and Guy at Toulon

Stuart Lancaster tells England: Play with pride, without fear and win the World Cup!

New boss Lancaster tells England: Play with pride, without fear… and win the World Cup!



16:04 GMT, 29 March 2012

Stuart Lancaster described his
appointment as England head coach as 'an honour and a privilege' as he
spelt out what he feels is needed for the team to claim World Cup glory
on home soil in 2015.

Lancaster's appointment has been confirmed
following a successful RBS 6 Nations campaign as interim manager
where he led England to second place in the championship, helping to
rebuild reputations after a disappointing World Cup showing under Martin
Johnson last autumn.

His next task will be to lead England
on a tough summer tour to South Africa, and he set out his blueprint
for how England can move forward in the build-up to 2015.

Master of all he surveys: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster poses at Twickenham on Thursday

Master of all he surveys: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster poses at Twickenham on Thursday

Life looking rosey: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday

Life looking rosey: New England head coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday

'The two words that spring to mind are honour and privilege,' he told a press conference on Thursday afternoon. 'Being head coach of your national team in any sport (is an honour), but to do it at a time when we've got a World Cup in our own country is a huge, huge honour.

'It's a very proud day for myself and my family, but it's not about me, it's about the team and the connection between the team and the English public.

'We had 82,000 people come to watch us Twickenham, there were 10 million people or thereabouts watching the Ireland game. England is a country that gets behind a team, there is no country that does that better than England.'

Lancaster, who has worked his way up through grassroots coaching and is a former England Saxons coach, still works as assistant coach to the West Park Leeds Under 11s team but his thoughts drifted last night to how he could take England to the top of the professional game.

Vision of the future: Lancaster during his unveiling press conference at Twickenham on Thursday

Vision of the future: Lancaster during his unveiling press conference at Twickenham on Thursday

'I was sat last night at West Park in Leeds having finished with the Under 11s and we were talking about the tour – not the South Africa tour, the Scarborough tour,' he said. 'I was sat there planning that and I thought “what would I want to see if I was a mini-team rugby coach or a spectator” and there are three things I'd like to bring to the (England) team.

'The first is pride, in wearing the shirt and the connection with people.

Reborn: Lancaster transformed England from World Cup flops to Six Nations title contenders

Reborn: Lancaster transformed England from World Cup flops to Six Nations title contenders

'The second is the vision for the future, and that is to win the World Cup in 2015.

'The third is for the players to play without fear, that when they come to play for England they can seize their opportunities and play without fear.'

Rugby Football Union chief executive
Ian Ritchie was not prepared to take questions on the make-up of
Lancaster's support staff.

Welcome on board: Lancaster with Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive (right)

Welcome on board: Lancaster with Ian Ritchie, the RFU chief executive (right)

coach Graham Rowntree is expected to remain part of the set-up but it
remains to be seen if Andy Farrell, who was seconded to England for the
Six Nations by Saracens, will join Lancaster's backroom staff on a
permanent basis.

Lancaster added: 'It's been everything that I've worked towards, going through all the coaching qualifications, it's what you strive for and it's a shot in the arm for all those people who believe in coaching.

'For me to get to the pinnacle it's an unbelievable honour.'

The rise and rise of Stuart Lancaster…

1969: Born October 9 in Penrith, Cumbria.

Makes his debut for Leeds, where he became a regular fixture in the
side. Lancaster was Leeds' regular flanker and captain until 2000.

Retires from rugby after playing at Headingley for eight years after
becoming the first Leeds player to play a century of games since the
amalgamation of Headingley and Roundhay.

2001: Appointed head of the Leeds RFU Academy, a position which he held for five years.

Became the director of rugby at Leeds Carnegie and led them to
promotion back to the Premiership following a title-winning season in

Appointed the head of the Rugby Football Union's elite player
development in March, helping to bring through a number of exciting
talents including England scrum-half Danny Care.

2010: Becomes manager of the England Saxons.

2011: Wins the Churchill Cup with Saxons.
December 8- Announced Lancaster would
head up an interim England coaching team, also including Graham Rowntree
and Andy Farrell, for the Six Nations.
December 11 – Names an elite player squad featuring nine uncapped players and 13 changes from the World Cup campaign.

2012: January 25 – Announces his intention to apply for the job on a permanent basis.
January 30- Names Chris Robshaw as captain in their Six Nations opener against Scotland.
February 4 – England beat Scotland 13-6 in Lancaster's first match in charge.
March 17 – England finish second in the Six Nations behind Wales.
March 29 – Lancaster is appointed England head coach.

… and his record as England caretaker

Stuart Lancaster has an impressive record since taking charge of England as caretaker manager:

Played 5 Won 4 Lost 1

February 4 – Scotland 6 England 13

Lancaster's tenure began with a
scrappy first England win at Murrayfield in eight years as Charlie
Hodgson charged down a Dan Parks kick to score the try which Owen
Farrell converted. Farrell finished with eight points on his debut.

February 11 – Italy 15 England 19

Hodgson and Farrell came to the
rescue once again as England trailed 12-6 and looked set for a first
defeat in 18 Test matches against Italy in a freezing Rome. Hodgson
scored another charge down try and Farrell kicked 14 points with four
penalties and a tough conversion.

February 25 – England 12 Wales 19

England were denied what could have
been a match-drawing try, if they had gone on to kick the conversion, as
David Strettle was ruled by the television official not to have
grounded the ball in the final play of the game. Farrell kicked four
penalties as Wales clinched the Triple Crown.

March 11 – France 22 England 24

Lancaster's stock rose with a narrow
win in Paris as tries from Manu Tuilagi, Ben Foden and Tom Croft gave
England a mathematical chance of winning the title going into their
final game of the championship.

March 17 – England 30 Ireland 9

An impressive win put the dampener on
St Patrick's Day celebrations as England dominated, their scrum proving
particularly dominant. Referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try
against the beleaguered Ireland scrum and Ben Youngs also touched down.
Farrell kicked 20 points.

Delon Armitage cautioned for assault following nightclub brawl

England star Armitage cautioned for assault after nightclub brawl in Torquay



09:34 GMT, 28 March 2012

England full-back Delon Armitage has been cautioned for assault following a fracas at a nightclub, police have confirmed.

Caution: London Irish and England full-back Delon Armitage

Caution: London Irish and England full-back Delon Armitage

Armitage, who plays for London Irish in the Aviva Premiership, was arrested after an incident at a nightclub in Torquay, Devon, in January in which a man suffered a split lip.

Armitage had played the previous day for the England Saxons, the international side's second XV, in their 23-17 win against the Irish Wolfhounds at the Exeter Chiefs' Sandy Park ground.

The 28-year-old, who has been capped 26 times and scored seven tries for England, was subsequently suspended from the England Saxons Elite Player Squad.

Armitage's arrest came on the eve of the start of the new-look England's Six Nations campaign and followed the controversial Rugby World Cup campaign.

Luke Benedict

The team's time in New Zealand was marred by off-field activities, mainly allegations that players took part in 'dwarf-tossing' at a bar. Centre Mike Tindall was later fined and dropped by the RFU over the incident.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokeswoman said of Armitage: 'He received a police caution on March 23.'

Stuart Lancaster tells Danny Cipriani he won"t go straight back into the England team

You won't fly back in, Dan: Lancaster's England warning for Cipriani



01:39 GMT, 21 March 2012

Stuart Lancaster welcomed Danny Cipriani’s decision to return to English rugby in an attempt to re-ignite his Test career, but warned he has plenty of ground to make up in an increasingly competitive position.

The 24-year-old former Wasps fly-half’s summer move from Melbourne Rebels to Sale was confirmed in a statement from the Cheshire club which revealed he has signed a three-year deal.

His decision to pitch himself back into the Aviva Premiership, after a two-year stint in Australia, is a clear indication that Cipriani wants to play for England again, and has set his sights on regaining the national No 10 shirt in time for the home World Cup in 2015.

Coming home: Cipriani has signed for Sale Sharks

Coming home: Cipriani has signed for Sale Sharks

Biding his time: Lancaster has warned Cipriani he will have to work his way up the pecking order

Biding his time: Lancaster has warned Cipriani he will have to work his way up the pecking order

Lancaster, the interim head coach who is hoping to remain in charge of England in the long term following a successful RBS Six Nations campaign, is pleased that another pedigree playmaker will be available for selection.

However, he emphasised that Cipriani must prove that he has made strides in terms of on-field performance and general conduct.

Cipriani was firmly out of favour with the Martin Johnson regime and Lancaster, who coached him for the Saxons, will need to be convinced he can be trusted.

Asked if the necessary level of trust takes time to be re- established, Lancaster said: ‘It does. Equally, my relationship with Danny has always been good. I’ve probably coached him more than anyone else in the England set-up.

I had a good chat with him in December when he came over.

‘I know Danny well and I wanted examples of how he felt his game was improving and how he felt he was developing off the field and in his contribution to team dynamics. He gave me loads of examples on how he was working in that area.

Chris Foy's exclusive

‘He’s got to come back and play his way into the Saxons squad, then into the seniors. If he does do that then it is about buying into the culture. If people don’t buy into it — it doesn’t matter whether it’s Danny or anyone else — there are plenty of players on the list.

‘If you get the environment right, the players tend to buy it. There were people questioning one or two of the players who went to the World Cup, who are still in the England side, but their behaviour has been exemplary. So it’s about setting the right environment.

Warning: England interim head coach Stuart Lancaster warned Cipriani he won't walk back into the international set-up

Warning: England interim head coach Stuart Lancaster warned Cipriani he won't walk back into the international set-up

‘Clearly we want all our best players playing in England.

‘Danny’s decision to come back to Sale is great, because he can now put his hat back into the (England) ring. But the reality is he’s come back into a very competitive position.’

The rapid emergence of Owen Farrell
at fly-half during the Six Nations enhanced the range of options for
Lancaster — or Nick Mallett if he is appointed head coach by the RFU.

‘We’ve got Owen, who obviously did
extremely well in the Six Nations, Charlie (Hodgson), who but for a
finger injury would have played against Wales, and Toby (Flood) who is
the most capped player in our squad,’ said Lancaster.

‘With those three, and the likes of
George Ford, Tom Heathcote, Henry Slade and Rory Clegg and one or two
others, there’s a lot of talent.

Competition: Owen Farrell has made the fly-half position his own during the Six Nations

Competition: Owen Farrell has made the fly-half position his own during the Six Nations

Troubled past: Cipriani has dominated the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent years

Troubled past: Cipriani has dominated the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent years

‘Typically, what happens with players is they spend a lot of time looking ahead to the player they’re chasing, who’s ahead of them in the pecking order and tends to be older. What they often don’t see is the player who’s coming up from behind.’

While Farrell, 20, has just burst on to the Test scene, Ford, 19, is coming to the fore as a creative presence at Leicester.

Lancaster believes the teenage Tiger is set for higher recognition, adding: ‘It’s great that he’s been given the chance by Leicester and he’s taken it. You don’t become IRB Young Player of the Year if you haven’t got talent.
‘He’s still a young player, two years younger than Owen. There’s still a lot of physical maturing to do, but he’s got great talent.’

For Sale, the signing of Cipriani is another step towards becoming a real force. Chief executive Steve Diamond said: ‘Quality signings such as Danny Cipriani and Richie Gray are a massive statement of intent from the Sharks. We aim to become a super Northern club.’

Lancaster confirmed yesterday that England will play two mid-week matches — prior to the second and third Tests — on their summer tour of South Africa.

Early indications are that the games will take place in Kimberley and Bloemfontein.

Forwards coach Graham Rowntree wants Lancaster to stay in charge and for the RFU to recruit Andy Farrell, his other lieutenant, from Saracens on a permanent basis.

‘Stuart has dragged us out of the gutter,’ said Rowntree. ‘We failed in New Zealand. That was only weeks ago but we have come light years in that time. I would love everything to remain as it is.’