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.

Alex Goode, Chris Ashton and Ernst Joubert of Saracens look dejected after defeat to Toulouse

Toulouse 21 Saracens 11: Away quarter-final would give Sarries chance to prove they can compete in the Heineken Cup

Saracens came unstuck against French opposition once again after they saw their hopes of a home draw fade with defeat to Toulouse

George North of Northampton brushes off the challenge of Ospreys’ Jeff Hassler

Ospreys 17 Northampton 29 match report: George North scores 70 yard try in Heineken Cup

Saints' chances of progress remain slim despite victory

Stuart Gray is hoping for the full-time Sheffield Wednesday job after the 6-0 win over Leeds United

Sheffield Wednesday 6 Leeds United 0:Stuart Gray hopes demolition of Yorkshire rivals will lead to permanent job

The caretaker manager has overseen a rise out of the Championship relegation zone since Dave Jones was sacked in December

Odds are still heavily against the Harlequins after consecutive defeats in Octobe

Harlequins cling to hopes of upset as Northampton face Ospreys battle

French league leaders’ home record now stands at 70 straight wins

George Ford has benefited from a long run at No 10 with Bath

George Ford set for England promotion but Stuart Lancaster battles with problems up front

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.

Richard Cockerill served a nine-match ban earlier this season

Richard Cockerill escapes punishment over Sale Sharks ‘cheat’ comments

Richard Cockerill will not face disciplinary action over his post-match comments made following last Saturday’s Premiership game between Leicester and Sale Sharks.

Missing priest found dead in supermarket car park

Police say the body of Father Joseph Williams had been lying unnoticed for three days

Welsh wing George North was the galvanising force in Northampton's win over Bath

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.

Last hurrah George North cap another fine show by heading over to score Northampton’s final try

Northampton Saints 43 Bath 25 match report: George North pulls out all stops to put Bath in their place

Northampton stall visitors’ title challenge as Myler states his case for place in England squad

Scotland lock Alastair Kellock will miss the Six Nations after undergoing surgery on an arm injury

Alastair Kellock ruled out of Scots’ Six Nations plans

Scotland lock Alastair Kellock will miss the Six Nations after undergoing surgery on an arm injury.

'young Britons, often in packs, go out to get thoroughly, blindingly and often violently drunk'

Northampton left reeling by exposé of binge drinking - courtesy of the New York Times

Young Britons, drinking in packs, often end up 'gloriously incoherent', according to The New York Times

Magic moment: Jonathan Joseph speeds over for the Bath’s decisive try

Rugby round-up: Loss of Andy Goode proves costly for Wasps as Stephen Myler saves Saints

A round-up of Saturday's Aviva Premiership action

The Sport Matrix: Thursday 19 December 2013

Spurs knocked out by Hammers as United progress

Harlequins’ Charlie Walker breaks a tackle to score a try against Racing Metro

Heineken Cup round-up: 'Harlequins can complete great fightback,' says Director of Rugby Connor O'Shea

Conor O’Shea believes Harlequins can clinch a remarkable comeback and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup after earning their second successive victory over big-spending Racing Metro.

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Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
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The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
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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
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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
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A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
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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
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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
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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'
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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
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Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

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Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

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Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

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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