Eddie Jones’ 31-man England World Cup squad has made for some interesting reading with a number of shock call-ups. Bath’s Ruaridh McConnochie and Northampton’s Lewis Ludlam are perhaps the two most interesting call-ups, as is Piers Francis, Ludlam’s fellow Saints player.
But one decision that has surprised a number of fans on social media is not so much the personnel in the squad, but the representation from different clubs.
After the eight-strong contingent provided by Premiership winners Saracens, Leicester Tigers have the most players in the squad with their half-dozen selections. This is despite them finishing in 11th place amid fears throughout the season that they would be relegated.
This has not sat well with some fans on Twitter, who feel some players are in the squad based on reputation rather than form. Then again, when looking at the Leicester squad, it is hard to blame Jones for some of his decisions.
Eddie Jones has named his 31-man England squad for the Rugby World Cuphttps://t.co/K41hq4OZmT
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 12, 2019
Jonny May and Ben Youngs are two favourites for England, and while Youngs’ form may have dipped slightly over the Six Nations, he was never worthy of being dropped. Manu Tuilagi, who fought back from a succession of injuries last season, is another player that was always likely to make it, simply due to the X-factor that he brings.
While there was a large number of fans that believed Premiership player of the year Danny Cipriani warranted a place over George Ford, the Tigers fly-half was one of the team’s only bright sparks last season and has always been part of Jones’ plans.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) August 12, 2019
Therefore, at least four of the Tigers players deserve to go to Japan, albeit off the back of a very poor domestic season.
One area that is contentious, however, is the props. Dan Cole, whose international career looked to be over this time last year after missing out on the tour to South Africa, was selected by Jones ahead of Exeter’s Harry Williams. If this was a 50/50 call for Jones, some may be surprised that he opted for a player from an 11th place club side.
— liam heagney (@heagneyl) June 2, 2019
Likewise, Ellis Genge was awarded the third loosehead prop slot after battling with Exeter’s Ben Moon over the past year. Had Jones opted for the two Exeter props, the squad would have looked slightly more fairly represented.
While the fans certainly have a point about the form of the Leicester players after last season, which will be a concern, it is also hard to argue with many of the selections. This is what has been said:
— Olly Priestley (@OlvisIII) August 12, 2019
6 players from 11th place Leicester and 3 from 2nd place Exeter… What could go wrong? https://t.co/9AzqQblpS4
— Oli (@OliPlays13) August 12, 2019
Yeah I know as a Gloucester fan I'll sound biased but having 6 players from Leicester who were nearly relegated (great players but still) and 1 player from Gloucester who comfortably finished 3rd and were the only team anywhere near Sarries and Exeter seems a bit unfair
— Mat Dunnett (@Mathew_Dunnett) August 13, 2019
Unbelievable that Bath and Leicester have so many representatives. Old boys club strikes again!!!
— Louise Jones (@parchot) August 12, 2019
How the hell Leicester have that many I have no idea! Exeter, Gloucester and Quins should have more
— Craig Davis (@craigdvs11) August 12, 2019
Travesty that so many Tigers are picked on reputation rather than form!
— Ryan Morgan (@RyanMorgan1989) August 12, 2019
Too many from Leicester. Didn't Eddy follow the league last season? They were close to being relegated.
— kevin@sisli (@kevin_lsi) August 13, 2019
How on Earth there are that many Tigers players after the last few years God only knows…
— James Tipping (@JamesETipping) August 12, 2019
Questions have also been raised regarding the third most represented side, Bath, who have five players in the squad despite finishing the season in sixth place.
However, both Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph missed large chunks of the season, and Sam Underhill also spent time on the sidelines. Those three could have easily helped their club to a higher finish.
Ultimately, Jones knows what he is going to get from many of the Leicester players and while they suffered a terrible 2018/19 season by their high standards, the Australian obviously still has faith in them.
WATCH: England boss Eddie Jones speaks at the announcement of his World Cup squad in Bristol
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