Joe Launchbury injury: Launchbury injury rules him out of England’s Six Nations

Joe Launchbury, outstanding in last year’s tournament,  will have operation which needs four months’ recovery

Click to follow

England’s chances of heading into their home World Cup as Six Nations champions received a nasty blow yesterday when the Wasps lock Joe Launchbury, one of the most eye-catching performers in last season’s tournament, was ruled out of all rugby until the spring.

Launchbury’s long-standing neck injury – he has been suffering from a bulging disc – shows no sign of easing and he will undergo surgery today: a routine operation, but one that requires a recovery period of between three and four months.

“This is a frustrating time for Joe, but rugby is not the important thing in all this,” said David Young, the Wasps rugby director. “The important thing is his long-term health. He’s in good hands, being looked after by one of the world’s leading surgeons.”

There was better news of another young Premiership lock, Charlie Matthews. The uncapped Harlequin was cleared of a gouging charge arising from last weekend’s narrow European Champions Cup defeat by Leinster in Dublin, having had the benefit of supportive evidence from the rival flanker Dominic Ryan, his alleged victim. Ryan, involved in a scuffle with Matthews towards the end of the game, told a disciplinary tribunal that he had not felt any contact in or around the eyes.

Launchbury has been a regular in the England team under Stuart Lancaster

Meanwhile, the celebrated All Black outside-half Daniel Carter will see out his career in France following next autumn’s World Cup. Carter has been signed by the wealthy Parisian club Racing Métro on a three-year deal that will make him the best-paid player in the sport.

The man currently in possession of the Racing Métro No 10 shirt, Jonathan Sexton of Ireland, will miss the start of the Six Nations after complaining of headaches and nausea following a bout of concussion. He is expected to be fit for the big game with England in Dublin on 1 March.