Farrell? Smith? Ford? And round and curved we go. There is a quirk in the limitless column inches that have tortured over who should start as England’s stand-off and it is that fairly little thought has been given to the other half of the half-back partnership. Instead, the debate about who should play pivot has twisted on how any given applicant for the RWC 2023 fly-half berth may balance the centres outside him; or, in Farrell’s case, whether he should lumber out to 12 himself.
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The stable French half-back combination has been central to the nation’s ascent up the global rankings. The business’s not quite at Matt Dawson, and Jonny Wilkinson’s levels yet in terms of stanch clear-eyed control, but Antoine Dupont and Ntamack’s mixture is laying the basics for France’s genuine tilt at winning a home Rugby World Cup. And the duo possibly still has a decade ahead of them.
With England Rugby World Cup team head coach Steve Borthwick keen to swiftly participate George Ford back into the heart of the Red Rose camp after a long injury lack, there is much still up for grabs in the England half-backs. France’s visit to Twickenham is likely to prove instructive in emphasising what may or may not be lacking for England in that section. And Dupont’s arrival in town surely draws kindness to the irregular primacy of the nine roles over the 10.
England RWC one of the best choices 9 is Dan Robson
An outside, odd bet for respect as England’s third-choice 9 is Dan Robson, one of many scrum halves to have drifted around the fringes of the lengthy England RWC squad for several years. Since Wasps’ downfall, Robson has been playing Top 14 rugby at Pau. And just as past team-mate Jack Willis, now of Toulouse has been fit to be picked for England due to Wasps’ bankruptcy being thought an exceptional circumstance.
That enables an overseas-based player to uniform the Red Rose, so too does that belief apply to Robson. In a France Rugby World Cup year in which the global jamboree is being held in France, there is a firm logic to having a smattering of players in your group who have been plying their trade on Gallic soil players who escalate what rugby means in France and who can bring that je ne sais quoi to a national squad. Rugby fans can buy England Rugby World Cup Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
Few would begrudge Northampton Saints’ Alex Mitchell his present decent stint in the England team, and based on his on-field time in the Six Nations so far there are pointers that he is a good fit as a tempo-raising No 9, coming off the seat to tease the exhausted legs of wheezy backlines and back row forwards. Indeed, speed and rhythm are what many of the pelotons of English scrum-halves offer think Sale’s Raffi Quirke, Harry Randall at Bristol and another outside gamble Ben Spencer at Bath.
Who will manage to get a place in France Rugby World Cup 2023 team?
Mitchell, Randall and Quirke all have the kind of fizzy, livewire style that vibrates with a Marcus Smith figure at 10, although there is the risk of slightly too much fizz making things get a bit dizzy. Quirke is also short of game time following injury and is presently second-choice at Sale, while Randall remains in search of steadiness. That said, statement acts such as the one that Randall supplied for the Bristol Bears against the Northampton show.
He is too good to be superficially omitted from the chat. When on the song, he can show Dupontian gratitude for support lines and can be the circuitry that connects packs and backs with a real crackle. He also punches above his slight weight, as Saints fullback George Hendy discovered when on the receiving end of a Randall fend. More of that from Randall and he will quickly force his way back into the genuine reckoning for a Rugby World Cup 2023 berth.
All of which helps to highlight how a head-turning club run from one of the fringe scrum halves over the next couple of months could be enough to get them to France this season. While the odds on Spencer playing in another Rugby World Cup Final, as he did as a standby in 2019, are slim, Bath forwards coach Neal Hatley who has also worked with Spencer at England feels the scrum-half is a more advanced, rounded player now.
Jamie Joseph try to find the best mix and state from Japan RWC run-up
Japan head coach Jamie Joseph on Monday promised to use six warmup games over the six months before the France Rugby World Cup to field his best team out in France. The Brave Blossoms, who reached their first World Cup knockout stage four years ago under Joseph on their home soil, will be looking to echo the feat or do even better this year when they kick off their drive against Chile on Sept. 10 before facing England, Samoa and Argentina in Pool D.
We’ve got to make sure all our players are max out at the right time, Joseph told a news session. We play our opening game against Chile, which is the most significant game at the RWC for us. While the local League One playoff final is planned for May 20 and his Japan side activities are to kick into gear on June 9, Joseph exposed he plans to visit each club to hold talks with World Cup applicants. Rugby fans can buy Japan Rugby World Cup Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
I think it’s significant for the players to understand that everyone has an opening, regardless of where they are playing in League One, the 53-year-old said. Two games against a second-string All Blacks XV will kick off Japan’s six-match Rugby World Cup 2023 training in July when they also face Samoa and Tonga. They play Fiji on Aug. 5 before roving to face Italy on Aug. 26 for their final warm-up game.
After overcoming centres Ireland and Scotland in the pool phase four years ago to reach their first quarterfinals, Joseph trusts the Brave Blossoms can aim higher. I think the achievement from 2019, not just for myself but for the whole squad, that gives a bit of understanding that this team is good enough actually to go the whole way, he said.
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