England’s 33-man Rugby World Cup squad unveiled, featuring a few surprises

Dylan Coetzee
The England team and members of staff pose for a photo after Rugby World Cup squad announcement.

The England team and members of staff pose for a photo after Rugby World Cup squad announcement.

England head coach Steve Borthwick has named his 33-man squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, which begins in just over a month.

The squad is split up into 19 forwards and 14 backs and is led by Owen Farrell, with Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes as his deputies.

The high-profile omissions see Henry Slade, Alex Dombrandt and Tom Willis all miss out.

Balance of experience

The coach has opted for experience up front in Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler and Dan Cole, whilst Theo Dan, Jack Walker, Bevan Rodd and Will Stuart are the other front-row options.

David Ribbans gets the nod in the second-row with Lawes, Maro Itoje, George Martin and Ollie Chessum. Meanwhile, there is a lot of dynamism in the back-row through Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Lewis Ludlam, Billy Vunipola and Jack Willis.

In the backline, Ben Youngs is heading to his fourth World Cup alongside scrum-halves Danny Care and Jack van Poortvliet. At fly-half, Farrell is joined by Marcus Smith and George Ford.

Ollie Lawerence’s dream year continues as he earns a deserved selection with Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant as the centre options for Borthwick.

In the outside backs, the squad’s youngest player Henry Arundell gets the nod with Elliot Daly, Max Malins, Anthony Watson and full-back Freddie Steward.

Difficult selection

Borthwick is happy with the squad he has selected and explained how difficult the decisions were.

“Rugby World Cups involve unique challenges in terms of the demands on players, the need for squad flexibility and the limited number of squad places available,” said Borthwick.

“France 2023 is no different, but I am confident we have selected a squad of 33 that is well able to meet those challenges and leave us best placed to be at our most competitive in this exciting tournament.

“There have been a number of very difficult selection decisions to make, given the quality of our wider training squad. Some very good players have missed out on selection, such has been the competition for places over the last eight weeks and more of preparation.

“As Saturday’s game in Cardiff proved, we have a series of demanding Test matches through August as we continue that preparation towards our opening Rugby World Cup pool game against an in-form Argentina side.”

The coach feels announcing the squad earlier removes any chance of speculation.

“We believe that announcing the squad a little earlier than otherwise might have been the case, brings clarity and certainty to the group, allowing the players as much time as possible to settle and develop as a squad,” he added.

England’s Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards: Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, George Martin, David Ribbans, Bevan Rodd, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Billy Vunipola, Jack Walker, Jack Willis

Backs: Henry Arundell, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Jack van Poortvliet, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs

READ MORE: All the Rugby World Cup warm-up fixtures and results