December 5, 2023


In a surprising twist ahead of the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup, England’s squad selection has sent shockwaves through the rugby community. Notable omissions such as Henry Slade, Alex Dombrandt, and Joe Cokanasiga have left fans and experts alike buzzing with speculation. Steve Borthwick, at the helm of the selection process, has opted for a blend of power, versatility, and strategic prowess as he finalizes his squad for the upcoming tournament. Let’s dive into the intriguing details that define this bold and strategic decision.

Surprising Omissions:

Henry Slade’s exclusion from the World Cup squad has raised eyebrows, especially considering his status as a former vice-captain and his significant experience with 56 caps to his name. Borthwick’s decision to omit him, along with Alex Dombrandt and Joe Cokanasiga, reflects the coach’s intent to prioritize a specific set of qualities for the team’s composition. Slade’s impressive sleight of hand and skills have made way for a focus on power and versatility.

Reshaping the Backline:

The reshaping of the backline is a pivotal aspect of Borthwick’s strategy. Joe Marchant’s versatility, capable of playing both in the centre and on the wing, has earned him a spot in the squad, filling the gap left by Slade. This move emphasizes the coach’s intention to have players who can seamlessly adapt to various positions, providing a tactical advantage on the field. The inclusion of young talents like Marcus Smith hints at an evolving game plan that incorporates dynamic playmaking.

Bolstering the Forward Pack:

Borthwick’s decision to include an extra forward, opting for a 19th forward instead of a 15th back, highlights the importance he places on the forward pack’s role. With a focus on power, strength, and adaptability, the selection of 10 players for the back-five positions underscores England’s commitment to a formidable forward presence. Despite inauspicious performances, George Martin and David Ribbans secure spots in the squad, showcasing Borthwick’s faith in their potential.

Strategic Versatility:

The composition of the squad underscores Borthwick’s strategic versatility. The inclusion of players like Jack Willis, Ollie Lawrence, and Henry Arundell provides an X-factor that adds unpredictability to England’s game. The decision to include players who can excel in multiple positions ensures that Borthwick’s team will have the flexibility to adapt to various game scenarios, providing a potent combination of grafters and game-changers.


As England’s World Cup squad is unveiled, the unexpected omissions and strategic inclusions have ignited excitement and intrigue. Steve Borthwick’s meticulous approach, prioritizing power, versatility, and strategic prowess, sets the stage for a captivating tournament ahead. With an emphasis on adapting to different positions and scenarios, this squad promises a dynamic and engaging brand of rugby that fans around the world eagerly anticipate.

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