Sport England captain Chris Robshaw in training at Pennyhill Park

When Chris Robshaw led England for the first time, at Murrayfield in the opening match of the 2012 Six Nations, his back division was as green as the proverbial grass. Owen Farrell was making his international debut in the centre, as was Brad Barritt, and while dear old Charlie Hodgson had a fair few caps behind him at outside-half, the impression was of a unit in its infancy. And now, two years down the red-rose road? The back line has grown less experienced, not more.

England coach Stuart Lancaster holds court at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot, Surrey

Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster will be forced into gambling in Paris

'I met every player last week one-to-one and, as there were 35 of them, it was a long day'

Saracens' Nathan Earle is held by Zach Kibirige during the game on Sunday

Round-up: Saracens cruise into cup semi-finals

Saracens recorded a comfortable 41-8 victory over Newcastle on Sunday to ensure they finished top of their LV= Cup pool and so sealed their progression to the semi-finals.

Sam Warburton is the first to sign a Welsh central contract

Sam Warburton’s loyalty to Wales may leave him out in the cold at Cardiff

Sam Warburton finally knows who will be employing him next season and how much he can expect to earn after signing a central contract with the Welsh Rugby Union – the kind of contract rejected by two of his fellow Red Dragon titans, the full-back Leigh Halfpenny and the lock Alun Wyn Jones, in favour of alternative deals with Toulon and Ospreys respectively. What Warburton does not know is how many top-level club games he will play if the sport’s alleged “leaders” fail to break the impasse over the future of the Heineken Cup.

Passing judgement: Dylan Hartley now believes that pushing the opposition back five metres is the way to hurt them

Six Nations: Dylan Hartley turns pacifist ahead of England-France match: ‘You can’t just punch anyone any more’

Ahead of England’s crucial first game against France, their feisty hooker admits that front-row tactics have had to change

Ian Madigan scored nine points, including a try, to give Ireland Wolfhounds a 14-8 victory over England Saxons

England Saxons 8 Ireland Wolfhounds 14: Burns nightmare adds to day of woe for Saxons

Madigan and his Leinster half-back partner Isaac Boss scored a try apiece to give Ireland second XV victory

Lukas Podolski clips the ball just inside the post to score Arsenal's first goal

Arsenal 4 Coventry City 0 match report: Lukas Podolski shines on Arsenal’s fraternal and farcical FA Cup night

Wenger handed a senior debut to 16-year-old midfield prospect Zelalem

Keith Houchen heads Coventry's second goal past Tottenham goalkeeper Ray Clemence in the 1987 final

Arsenal v Coventry: Keith Houchen flies Sky Blue flag ahead of FA Cup meeting

One of the heroes of Coventry’s 1987 triumph tells Simon Hart that the battling League One side can make more Cup memories

Mathew Tait has been forced to pull out of the England Saxons' side on Saturday with a back injury

Six Nations: Back injury ends Mathew Tait's hopes of Stuart Lancaster audition for England

It would be factually incorrect to suggest that Mathew Tait is “always injured”, but there are undeniably times when it seems that way. Like now. Stuart Lancaster and his fellow England coaches were relishing the prospect of watching the Leicester full-back play for the second-string Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds at Gloucester this weekend and Tait knew that a strong performance would do his chances of a welcome red-rose recall no harm at all. Sadly, there will be no performance of any description. The poor man is crocked again.

Luke Marshall of Ulster battles past Leicester Tigers Matt Smith

Heineken Cup: Ulster out for revenge when Saracens travel to Ravenhill

Saracens knocked Ulster out of last year's tournament at the same stage but top seeds have looked in imperious form this campaign

Northampton women killed in Utah family of five 'murder-suicide'

Local police said serving officer Joshua Boren appeared to have turned his gun on his wife, mother-in-law and two young children

Freddie Burns is set to play for England Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds

Six Nations 2014: Heineken Cup rigours threaten to derail England preparations

The waiting is the hardest part. Thirty-five players, led by the reappointed national captain Chris Robshaw, will arrive in the England camp between Sunday evening and Monday morning as attention switches from the Heineken Cup – or rather, what is left of the Heineken Cup – to the Six Nations, which begins in a fortnight's time. How many will be in a condition to train before the middle of next week at the earliest? Not as many as the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, would like, almost certainly.

Liam Culverhouse has been jailed for six years for causing the death of his 20 month old daughter

Traumatised Afghan veteran jailed for killing 20-month-old daughter

A soldier left traumatised after being severely wounded during a surprise attack in Afghanistan and witnessing the deaths of five of his colleagues was jailed for six years yesterday for killing his 20-month old daughter.

Richard Cockerill has praised his Leicester Tigers squad for showing a 'cussedness' in the Heineken Cup

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill praises 'cussed' players for Heineken Cup qualification

Tigers face a final showdown with Ulster in Saturday with both teams vying for a home quarter-final having already qualified for the last eight

George North is among several Wales players who have left the regional sides

Six Nations 2014: Domestic strife will hit Welsh hat-trick dreams, says George North

George North fears the ongoing ructions between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions threaten the stability and form of the national side. The Wales wing also expressed sympathy for his international team-mates who face an uncertain club future as they begin preparations for their bid to become the first side to win the Six Nations for three successive seasons.

Rhys Webb has overtaken Lloyd Williams in the race to be Wales’ scrum-half

Six Nations 2014: Warren Gatland stays true to tried and trusted squad to rise above turmoil

Warren Gatland already knows a thing or two about laying hands on the union code's glittering prizes, but if he makes Six Nations history over the next few weeks by coaching Wales to a third successive title, his reputation as a rugby alchemist will be secure. The 32-man squad he announced looked extremely powerful, but with several key players in contractual limbo, others plying their trade abroad and still more lamenting the viciousness of the political turf war west of the Severn, the New Zealander may have a difficult job bringing people together in common cause.

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