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.

Matt Kvesic

Stuart Lancaster turns to Matt Kvesic as injuries hit England squad

Stuart Lancaster's carefully laid plans for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship were subject to early adjustment last night, with the first sight of the enemy still almost a fortnight distant. Injuries to two of the England coach's back-row forwards, the Exeter flanker Tom Johnson and the Northampton bruiser Calum Clark, forced him into action and he immediately turned to the uncapped Worcester breakaway Matt Kvesic to fill one of the gaps.

Northampton lock Samu Manoa charges through the Castres defence at Franklin’s Gardens last night

Toothless Northampton sneak home against Castres thanks to Ryan Lamb but miss bonus point

Northampton 18 Castres 12: Saints have to hope and pray for half a dozen results to go their way next week

Calum Clark

Calum Clark wants to put past behind him following England call-up

Clark broke the elbow of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins

Exeter kicked three penalties to one by Stephen Myler (pictured)

Saints overcome the sins of Hartley to rise again

Exeter Chiefs 19 Northampton Saints 30

Alex King joins Wasps from Clermont Auvergne, where he was a coach for five years

Northampton lure Alex King from French stronghold

Northampton have recruited the former Wasps and England fly-half Alex King to replace Paul Grayson on the coaching team at Franklin's Gardens.

Croft has a funny knack of being in the right place at the right time

Tom Croft's perfect timing creates late Six Nations opportunity

Leicester flanker makes comeback from neck injury and could claim place in England squad

Courtney Lawes: 'I know I am a good enough player but I have to make sure I am the best I can be'

Courtney Lawes: The Lawes of perpetual motion

The Northampton man has high hopes regarding England and the Lions after his 2012 was beset with injuries and a lack of motivation, he tells Richard Rae

Danny Care makes a break during the victory over Northampton

Care sounds a warning of Quins' intent to retain Premiership crown

Danny Care, Harlequins' England scrum-half, spoke for the league leaders after a fearsome forwards' performance in Saturday's 18-9 win at Northampton. "We wanted to send out a statement to the rest of the Premiership," said Care, "that we're the champions and we want to be the champions again."

Back breaker Saints’ Ben Foden manages to evade Quins’ Mike Brown and Ugo Monye, but it was not to be Northampton’s day

Foden try ruled out as Saints stumble again

Northampton Saints 9 Harlequins 18: Mallinder fury as official calls forward pass but will not rewind to check

Free travel on London Midland route

The Government is forcing Go Ahead to give thousands of passengers on its London Midland route £7m worth of free tickets after the rail operator cancelled hundreds of services.

George Robson: The Harlequins lock urged his team-mates to keep their strong form going

Harlequins feast on stuffed Zebre before Big Game

Harlequins 53 Zebre 5

Saracens will start Owen Farrell ahead of Charlie Hodgson

Weekend preview: It’s win or bust as English trio seek to match Quins’ progress

Decisions may be extremely hard to come by in the Heineken Cup boardroom, but coaches do not have the luxury of procrastination when it comes to choosing their teams for the kind of must-win matches facing teams like Leicester, Northampton and Saracens this weekend.

Hartley fell out with Best after a series of scrums

Two-week ban gives Dylan Hartley chance to regain England spot

Dylan Hartley, the England hooker and occasional national captain who missed the recent autumn series with injury, was a relieved man tonight after avoiding the worst consequences of a Heineken Cup dust-up with his Irish opposite number Rory Best – perhaps his principal rival for a Lions Test place against the Wallabies in Australia next summer. Hartley was banned for a fortnight after admitting striking Best with his arm during the Northampton-Ulster match at Franklin's Gardens a week ago.

<b>Quarter-final, 2012, Bradford 1 Arsenal 1 (Bradford won 3-2 on penalties)</b><br/>
When Arsenal equalised through Thomas Vermaelen in the 88th minute it appeared as though Garry Thompson's first half strike would be remembered as little more than a scare for the Premier League side. Yet the Gunners, fielding a strong side, were unable to grab a second in extra-time and the match went to penalties. Spot-kicks were being missed all over the place with Santi Cazorla seeing his effort saved and Marouane Chamakh hitting the post. However, League Two Bradford kept things interesting with Ritchie Jones and Stephen Darby failing to convert their efforts. Up stepped Vermaelen to take the final pen - needing to score. The ball was to ping back out off the post.

The greatest League Cup shocks

Defeat for Arsenal in the Capital One Cup will go down as one of the great giant killings

Ulster’s Darren Cave breaks away at Franklin’s Gardens last night

Peerless Pienaar leaves Northampton on the brink

Northampton 6 Ulster 25

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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
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Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape