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England name 31-man RWC squad

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England name official 31-man Rugby World Cup squad

Eddie Jones has named England’s official 31-man Rugby World Squad that will contest the sport’s flagship tournament in Japan next month.

Owen Farrell will captain England in his second Rugby World Cup. The squad of 31 players have over 1,000 caps with 17 having played in at least one of the previous Rugby World Cups.

The 2019 edition of the tournament will be the third for Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs. Cole and Youngs are the most capped in the squad (86).

After an impressive first season in the Premiership, having converted to the XVs game from sevens, Ruaridh McConnochie is the only uncapped player named.

Following their first caps against Wales on Sunday, which saw England win 33-19 at Twickenham, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Singleton and Willi Heinz are also included.

However, Ben Te’o has been overlooked in a shock omission. The midfielder has lost out to Francis among the four centres bound for Japan 2019 despite being an ever-present under Jones when available.

The 32-year-old was involved in a scuffle with Mike Brown during a social event at the squad’s training camp in Treviso a fortnight ago. Jones stated over the weekend that Te’o was still in World Cup contention but the Australian has chosen to leave him out.

Jones has gambled by taking only two scrum-halves with Heinz providing cover for Ben Youngs, who is first choice in the position. The decision to pick just five props means Harry Williams misses out, with Kyle Sinckler and Cole travelling as the two tightheads. Brad Shields will also miss out as he continues his rehabilitation from the foot injury incurred in Treviso.

Jones said: “Today is another step in the progress towards the Rugby World Cup. We have taken the decision to go early because of what we learned from previous campaigns. We want the squad to know early and now we can get on and be the best prepared England side there has ever been, ready to win the World Cup.”

On the players not selected Jones added: “A lot of good players have missed out, we feel for them, I feel for them personally. But as we know the World Cup is an incredible tournament where opportunities can present themselves and all those players who have missed out have been told they have to be ready.”

England have three matches against Wales (August 17), Ireland (August 24) and Italy (September 6) before the tournament starts. Jones said of their importance: “Every game is an opportunity to improve our game fitness, our team cohesion, and our tactical adaptability. Each game for us will have a specific purpose.”

To mark the squad announcement, a special video has been released to celebrate the players’ journey from community club and junior school rugby to their selection in England’s Rugby World Cup squad.

“The base of our game has always been the grassroots clubs,” said Jones. “Your first club and your first coach is such an important experience for you. It dictates how you approach the game and the spirit and the values you play with. To all the people that have helped the players get here, we have the greatest amount of thanks for all of you.”

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Impressive display from England. #RugbyWorldCup

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The squad will visit Blaise High School (formerly Henbury School) in Bristol on Monday afternoon to speak to media. The school has been involved in the RFU’s All Schools programme since 2012. Over 50 boys and girls involved in rugby programmes at the school and Clifton Rugby Club, which is linked to the school, will take part in rugby sessions involving the players and coaches.

England will begin their Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan against Tonga in Sapporo (September 22, KO 11:15am UK time) before playing USA Rugby in Kobe (September 26, KO 11:45am UK time), Argentina in Tokyo (October 5, KO 09:00am UK time) and France in Yokohama (October 12, KO 09:15am UK time)

England’s official Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps) **

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 11 caps)

Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps)

Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps) *

Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps)

George Kruis (Saracens, 32 caps) *

Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 59 caps) *

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 72 caps) **

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)

Joe Marler (Harlequins, 58 caps) *

Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps)

Jack Singleton (Saracens, 1 cap)

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 9 caps)

Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 42 caps) *

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53 caps) *

Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons/Sale Sharks, 13 caps)

Backs

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)

Elliot Daly (Saracens, 31 caps)

Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps) *

George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 56 caps) *

Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)

Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)

Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 41 caps) *

Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps) *

Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps) *

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps) *

Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps) *

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 34 caps) *

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps) **

* number of Rugby World Cup tournaments played

WATCH: Debut-making England scrum-half Willi Heinz tells RugbyPass about this first day on the job at Twickenham

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England name official 31-man Rugby World Cup squad