Courtney Lawes is clear in his mind which two teams possess the best line-outs in the Six Nations – and neither of them belongs to Wales, who are England’s next opponents. “Certainly, ours and Ireland’s are the top line-outs and we need to use that going into the Wales game,” said Lawes, who is in charge of England’s sideline set piece. “I’ve been keeping an eye on Wales’ line-outs. There’ll be a decent chance for us to put pressure on them.”
It could have gone horribly wrong in so many ways between the time England’s players left the team bus for their pre-match parade through the green-wellied set in the swanky west car park – who could be sure that Chris Robshaw would not do himself a mischief slipping on a sliver of smoked salmon, or tripping over a bottle of Chablis? – and the final white-knuckle moments of a memorable struggle, when Joe Launchbury somehow found the energy to make the tap-tackle that won the game, defying all rugby logic. The fact that things ultimately went so right confirmed that Robshaw and company will take an awful lot of beating when the World Cup comes to town next year.
Stuart Lancaster has selected a back-line with just 91 caps between them which includes debutants Nowell and Burrell
Warburton became the first to agree a deal with the Welsh Rugby Union that will keep him playing for the Cardiff Blues
They have all played in this annual showpiece in the past, but is it head or heart for these commentators?
Ahead of England’s crucial first game against France, their feisty hooker admits that front-row tactics have had to change
Madigan and his Leinster half-back partner Isaac Boss scored a try apiece to give Ireland second XV victory
The 30-year-old utility back, now with Rovigo in his homeland, has stood out this season and earnt a recall from national coach Jacques Brunel
Robshaw has led England to the runners-up spot in the past two championships but believes a more experienced core could lead to Six Nations glory
Sexton will be the only member of Ireland's squad in action this weekend while Schmidt also confirms Keith Earls is a serious doubt for the championship
Brian O'Driscoll was the beating emotional heart of the Lions party in Wallaby country last summer and when the great Ireland centre was dropped for the final Test, thousands upon thousands of rugby followers went into sporting seizure. Many did not forgive Warren Gatland, the coach who made the bravest of brave calls, even when the tourists won in Sydney and completed a first series triumph in 16 years.
The captain has been struggling with an injury since November
It will be the third successive Six Nations the Harlequins flanker has been at the helm for
Thomas is expected to join Bath at the end of the season while Gaskell has been linked with a move to London Wasps
Davies is not expected to return until March at the earliest while Warburton has been sidelined in recent weeks
Lancaster has warned administrators that the Elite Player Squad members need to be looked after better following a gruelling Lions tour and first half of the domestic season