Should This Be England’s Starting XV For The Rugby World Cup?


We take a look at who we think should be in England’s starting XV for their World Cup opener against Fiji in September…

15.Mike Brown

Brown may not have been at his best over the last 12 months, but he is still a solid full back and England’s best option here. During the 2013/14 season we also saw just how good he can be when firing on all cylinders.

14.Chris Ashton

This certainly isn’t going to be the most popular choice, but in a backline somewhat lacking in international experience, Ashton provides this and a try scoring threat. Reports out of the England camp are also claiming he’s the fittest member of the squad.

13.Jonathan Joseph

Joseph lit up the Six Nations for England this year, and looks set to star once more during the World Cup, especially in the absence of Manu Tuilagi. England will be hoping he can continue his great try scoring form throughout.

12.Owen Farrell

Farrell was absolutely sublime during the Premiership final, and has previously played outside of Ford during the Junior World U20’s Championship. This combined with a lack of other genuine contenders means he gets the nod.

11.Anthony Watson

Watson may not have quite found his try scoring form for England yet, however he was a constant threat during the Six Nations. The fact he can also cover full back means England can afford to be a bit more flexible with their bench options.


10.George Ford

With Ford at 10, England are able to play a more expansive style of rugby that appears to suit them well. He has also shown that he has drastically improved his kicking this season, so he should continue to start.

9.Ben Youngs

Youngs proved during the Six Nations that he is currently the stand-out scrum half in England right now. His experience and leadership will be vital at the World Cup, where he can hopefully re-ignite his partnership with Ford.

8.Billy Vunipola

This is a tough call between Vunipola and Morgan, however the incumbent gets the nod after a fine second half of the season for Saracens. With his fitness continuing to improve, he is also now able to see out a game if needs be.

7.Chris Robshaw

Robshaw is England’s captain elect, and one of their most consistent players. His on-field leadership will be vital at the World Cup, and he will be expected to deal with a significant amount of pressure throughout the tournament.

6.James Haskell

In a side that is somewhat lacking in caps, the experience of Haskell could be vital. He didn’t quite live up to expectation during the Six Nations, but was impressive for Wasps this season so deserves the nod for now.


5.Courtney Lawes

Lawes return from injury during the Six Nations was a huge boost for England and they will hope he can remain fit for the World Cup. His ability to run the line out, and put in huge hits will be seen as a huge asset by the coaching team.

4.Joe Launchbury

Having spent most of the last 12 months out injured, there is a risk Launchbury may come in somewhat undercooked. That being said, he is simply far too good to leave out, so needs as much game time as possible.

3.Dan Cole

Cole is currently one of the very best tightheads in the world, and proved how important he is to England during the Six Nations. Not only is he a fine scrummager, but he wins turnovers on a regular basis.

2.Tom Youngs

Youngs was phenomenal for Leicester this season after returning from injury, and could well have started even if Hartley was available. There will be grave concerns in the England camp though should he pick up an injury.

1.Joe Marler

Alongside Marler, both Corbisiero and Vunipola deserve a mention, however the Quins man gets the nod as the incumbent. Marler has improved markedly over the last couple of years, and is more than holding his own.




  1. you’re not exactly reinventing the wheel there – but having Farrell at 12 is just ridiculous. He isn’t a 12, doesn’t play at 12, isn’t quick enough, isn’t big enough, isn’t good enough defensively. Now by those points i mean he ins’t as good defensively as Barritt, he isn’t as big as Burrell and he isn’t as quick as Eastmond – so he doesn’t really fit into ANY of the gameplans that England have attempted under the current management. If anything as an experiment you could have Ford at 12 but that would also be daft when you have the other 3 options.
    Other than that – not far off the team but he doesn’t rate Ashton defensively (no one does) and Corbisiero is the best number 1 in the world so he would start with Marler on the bench and Mako wouldn’t even make the squad until he can learn to scrummage

  2. Ed Munro-Martin

    mako should start at 1 because he is decent in the scrum and his work around the park is amazing. nowell should start ahead of aston because he is able to play multiple positions so england can have more flexability on the bench. finally itoje should start ahead of haskell because his disapline is so much better and also he can carry and is much better defensively and would give england more variation in the lineout.

  3. Watson is plainly not a winger… He is the perfect 23 for England as can cover wing and full back
    Ashton is good at what he does and has really stepped up his game but is still not good enough
    Wood is needed for the lineout over Haskell
    Farrell is a good idea and should be good at 12 but you want Ford to be the only boss in that backline so he can control and flourish
    If Farrell can let him then he would be perfect

  4. 1. Corbs if he’s amazing in training, if not Marler
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Lawes
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Ford
    11. Nowell
    12. Barritt
    13. Joseph
    14. Rokoduguni
    15. Brown

    16. George
    17. Vunipola
    18. Wilson
    19. Slater
    20. Vunipola
    21. Wigglesworth
    22. Cipriani (if he’s still in the squad by then)
    23. Watson

    Flair mixed with experience in the backline with Barritt marshalling the defence and the Ford/JJ partnership creating holes.
    Massive, experienced, world class pack in front of them to get us on the front foot.

    Putting Roko in as I think he deserves another chance, could be a phenomenal player for us. Otherwise, Watson in as he’s also played very well.

    Potentially Henry Slade at 12, depending on the opposition.

    Very tight call between Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola but as Billy always seems to play better when Mako is on the field, I reckon it’s better to have them both as subs.

  5. 15 Brown 14 Watson 13 Joseph 12 Burrell 11 May 10 Ford 9 Care 1 Marler 2 Youngs 3 Cole 4 Launchbury 5 Lawes 6 Wood 7 Robshaw (c) 8 Vunipola

    16 George 17 Corbisiero 18 Wilson 19 Slater 20 Morgan 21 Youngs 22 Farrell 23 Rokodugani

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