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George Ford set for England promotion but Stuart Lancaster battles

George Ford will be the talk of the town if, as widely assumed, he replaces the France-bound Toby Flood in a revamped England squad this afternoon, but the 20-year-old Bath outside-half's promotion has not been at the top of the red-rose hierarchy's agenda in recent days. Stuart Lancaster and his lieutenants are far more concerned with issues up front, where injuries to important players are making life very complicated indeed.

The star in George North starts to appear for Saints

Northampton paid a fine of £60,000 to the Premiership for allowing George North to play for Wales outside the official international window last month, and if it made a nonsense of the league’s collective policy on the subject, everyone else appears to believe it was a stand worth taking.

Saracens 49 Leicester 10: Billy Vunipola power leads Saracens to

Billy Vunipola was in Tiggerish mood against the Leicester Tigers as Saracens stayed on top of the Premiership with a six-try, 49-10 win at Allianz Park. The all-action England No 8, playing on Sarries’ blind-side flank, spilt a coupled of restarts amid the wind and rain, scooped up an errant opposition put-in at the scrum, scored a third-quarter try and stepped mischievously into every position at rucks and mauls: offside and on.

Leicester 41 Montpellier 32: Miles Benjamin delighted to accept French

The English clubs may be turning their backs on the most compelling annual tournament in the union game but at least they are showing the good grace to wait until the end of the season. The French appear to be engaged in a mass skedaddle with two thirds of the campaign still to run. Racing Métro, Perpignan, Toulouse... between them, three of the biggest teams in the country have just made a mockery of the idea that they are still remotely interested in European competition.

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