England ready to name two spinners for second Test

Johnson dismisses Slam talk and urges England to focus on France

This time last week, Lewis Moody was confident of leading England against France in tomorrow evening's much-anticipated Six Nations match at Twickenham – the centrepiece of this season's tournament in factual terms, and quite possibly in metaphorical ones as well. As of yesterday, it is by no means certain that the Bath flanker will make the Calcutta Cup game with Scotland in 16 days' time, or, indeed, feature in the competition at all. His knee ligament problems, which first arose in mid-January, are far from sorted.

Johnson shows rare diplomacy in refusing to play hate game

England manager passes up chance to hit back at French counterpart in verbal battle ahead of crunch contest

England duo unscathed in Harlequins victory

Harlequins 21 Sale 9

Dylan Hartley: A Saint and a sinner who feels right at home

He got a six-month ban for gouging an England team-mate but made Wales coach eat humble pie. Now the happy hooker has France in his sights. Hugh Godwin meets Dylan Hartley

O'Shea votes Clegg for Quins' alternative at No10

Harlequins 21 Sale Sharks 9

Hanks and Key shown the door as game runs out of patience

Club rugby in England took another step along the road to footballisation yesterday when two clubs, Wasps and Leeds, divested themselves of their directors of rugby. Tony Hanks, the New Zealander who succeeded Sir Ian McGeechan as the Londoners' boss in 2009, was shown the door despite the team's presence in the top half of the Premiership table, while Key, awarded the "coach of the year" gong in 2010 after keeping the Yorkshiremen in the top flight against considerable odds, was declared surplus to requirements just as another act of escapology was beginning to look possible. Strange days indeed. Bitter ones, too.

Martin Johnson plays down Chris Ashton celebrations

England manager Martin Johnson today encouraged Chris Ashton to continue his showboating by declaring: "We are not here to stamp on people's personalities".

Martin Johnson allows England players to return to club duty

England manager Martin Johnson has confirmed that 18 members of his RBS 6 Nations squad will be available for club duty this weekend.

Alex Corbisiero replaces Andrew Sheridan for England

Alex Corbisiero will make an unexpected England debut against Italy, the land of his forefathers, at Twickenham tomorrow after Andrew Sheridan was ruled out with a back injury.

Ashton adds the cutting edge for emerging England’s heavy mob

Wales 19 England 26: Northampton winger scores pair of tries to ensure Martin Johnson’s side survive late Welsh fightback as this year’s Six Nations begins with a thrilling encounter in Cardiff

Tindall warns England to keep cool in heat of Cardiff cauldron

Captain urges side to silence crowd with fast start in tie that has potential to turn nasty

Bearded wonder Cole bristles with anger at state of scrum

In a room at a hotel in Chelsea Harbour, not far from where a Russian football club owner might have been ruminating a mega-money move for a Spanish striker, rugby's great and good were talking scrummaging. And talking, and talking: almost two hours of chat, and little time left for any other subject during the gathering of Six Nations coaches last Tuesday ahead of the 2011 version of the game's oldest Championship. The scrum, you see, is in a bit of a state. And, amazing as it may seem in this age of swooping cameras and bedroom suites in Twickenham stands, the scrum still matters.

Castrogiovanni delights Tigers by declining French money

Toulouse may have stumbled into a Heineken Cup elephant trap at Wasps last weekend, but the French are not losing too many arguments with the English right now. The European quarter-finals are loaded 9-4 in the favour of the Top 14 clubs across the water; Jonny Wilkinson considers a two-year contract extension with Toulon to be more important than a continuation of his Test career beyond this year's World Cup; and when it comes to financial regulation, the playing budgets over there are at least three times as generous as they are over here.

Sheridan turns down lucrative French offer to stay with Sale

Sale, busily sweeping up the managerial crockery smashed by the coach Mike Brewer before his sacking last month and glueing it back together again, feared they might lose two of their most celebrated players at the end of the season. As it turns out, the Lions Test prop Andrew Sheridan has decided against following the England outside-half Charlie Hodgson through the door marked "exit". Strongly linked with a lucrative move to France, the 31-year-old loose head will stay at Edgeley Park for another season at least.

Andrew Sheridan signs new deal with Sale

England prop Andrew Sheridan has ended speculation about his playing future by deciding to stay with Sale Sharks.

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