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.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution