France Rugby World Cup: who should be England Rugby’s captain under Borthwick?

England’s new head trainer has a vital choice to make between Owen Farrell, Ellis Genge, and Courtney Lawes Seven years ago this month. Eddie Jones kickstarted his tenure as England’s head trainer by selecting his opening leader. Time was short with the 2016 Six Nations championship fast approaching but he felt the squad he had inherited wanted a new voice. He finished up picking Dylan Hartley. Last Chris Robshaw’s 43-Test stint in charge.

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It was to verify an inspired transfer. Not only did England claim a Six Nations grand slam but they went on to succeed in 18 succeeding Tests. By the time Hartley had to retire, he had 25 successes from 30 Tests at the helm. Meaning a winning percentage bettered only by the 87.17% (34 from 39 Tests) of the great Martin Johnson. Under whom England won the Rugby World Cup 2023.

Even Will Carling’s 44 successes from 59 games as England’s boss could not quite manage those rarefied stats. Carling, though. Was an additional interesting example of a bold captaincy excellent that paid off. England had tried a scarce leader without, for various explanations. Finding a permanent solution previously Geoff Cooke went with the inexpert Carling in 1988. Again, the rest is mainly a triumphant past.

England’s player Marcus Smith

This brings us to the conundrum in front of Steve Borthwick in the opening days of a massive year for his lineup. Does he stick with Owen Farrell? Revert to the wound-plagued Courtney Lawes or opt for the road less traveled? The idiosyncratic Ellis Genge? Tom Curry? It has the sensation of a significant choice, made all the additional intriguing by Saracens’ big success done Exeter on New Year’s Eve.

In horrible situations, Farrell had an outstanding match. He was also the master and commander of a Saracens squad who knew precisely what they were doing and rose skillfully above the wind and rain. With Marcus Smith sidelined of late. It does not need to shine a crystal ball to envisage Farrell being handed the No 10 jersey. When Borthwick names his side to look at Scotland at Twickenham on 4 February.


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If he ends up throwing any additional killer offloads similar to the one that yielded Alex Lewington’s bonus-point attempt. Scotland really will have their hands full. Possibly the most fascinating snapshot, though. Came later Farrell had dropped a waist-high pass from his scrum-half, Aled Davies. Rather than apologizing. He answered by angrily rebuking Davies for throwing him the ball in the initial place when improved choices existed. In that split another it was likely to view the essence of Farrell: a world-class competitor for whom bruised individual emotional state or outside observations are secondary to his squad fulfilling its full potential.

England’s Perfect captain?

Does that make him the perfect captain? Sam Walker’s excellent book, The Boss Class, examined the broader question in detail. Later looking to quantify the best sports squads that have existed from the gridiron to ice hockey and basketball to cricket Walker then sought to classify what. If anything, all those sides had in common.  The conclusion he touched on was fascinating: they all had heads that showed broadly-like characteristics.

The traits that looked to count for most were dangerous doggedness and attention in rivalry and aggressive play that tested the limits of the instructions. A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows, a low-important, and democratic message style.  Skill to motivate with passionate non-verbal exhibitions, the courage to stand apart, and, finally, iron-clad emotional control. The best captains, in other words, were not necessarily superstars or given to tubthumping oratory. They were the ones who, by reliably setting standards and creating things happen, motivated those around them.

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When you measure Johnson and Hartley against those standards, they look like an almost perfect fit. So, to a big range, is Farrell. And yet Farrell’s winning percentage. Later 24 successes from 38 Tests as England’s head, sits at 63.16%. To put that into context, Lawes stands at 62.5% (5 successes from 8 Tests, as well as a series success in Australia the previous summer). While Robshaw is over up with a 60.46% achievement rate. In short, there is very slight between any of them; all the stats serve to do is burnish Hartley’s record even additional.


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National captaincy is Borthwick

The previous person who needs lecturing about the nuances of national captaincy is Borthwick. When he did the job, at a complicated time in England’s past. His success percentage was in the 40s. He understands improved than anybody how other aspects. Such as the quality of the players available and the relatively strong point of the opposition. Can undermine the best of intentions and canniest of leaders.

That said, he is also a keen reader and a smart thinker. On the one hand. He will sense Farrell’s fire and drive, properly channeled, ticks almost all boxes. On the other, with Lawes now troubled with a muscle strain, you suspect he will be thinking long and tough about Genge. Whom he installed as head and rated highly when they were at Leicester. The Tigers duly won the Premiership title and have been a slightly less irresistible force since he moved to Bristol.

So how should Borthwick proceed? He may well be tempted to stick with Farrell and potentially let Genge loose in a Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture. But does that give England the new impetus they want? Fortune favors the brave and all that. Besides. What if Farrell is reappointed and keeps the job for an additional couple of times? As things stand his father. Andy is a clear favorite to trainer the British & Irish Lions in Australia in 2025. Imagine if his son, with Johnny Sexton and Alun Wyn Jones in the twilight of their professions. Is also the chief captaincy applicant. It makes England’s following move all the extra interesting.


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Sinfield puts England’s coaching trip down to inspiring Burrow

These are still the initial first days and, as Kevin Sinfield knows improved than most, life’s most worthwhile tests are usually a marathon, not a sprint. For anybody curious about England’s prospects in the 2023 Six Nations under innovative management. However, Sinfield’s first public utterances since the connection to the national training setup have already made clear that motivation in adversity will not be a problem.

No wonder Sinfield said he has noted a “glint and sparkle in the players’ eyes over the previous two days as 45 players have collected in Liverpool and Gloucester to meet their innovative trainers and undergo some physical exams. If some of that was down to the natural excitement of a clean selectorial slate.  The chance to work with the inspirational Sinfield will be an extra important opportunity.

As a former rugby league great, Sinfield instinctively knows all there is to know about top-level competitiveness and hard work. What makes him even additional of an asset is his intellect of humanity and perspective. Underlined by his notable recent ultra-marathon endurance runs in aid of motor neuron disease research on behalf of his old fellow player Rob Burrow.


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interestingly it also looks like the Rugby Football Union owes a debt to Burrow for giving Sinfield the impetus to start the new trip that has finished up with him becoming England’s defense trainer under Steve Borthwick’s new regime. Rob’s inspired me in so several dissimilar ways and it’s probably a big reason why I’m here.

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