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Next season's 'England abroad XV' will be worryingly good

By Ian Cameron
Owen Farrell of England looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Bronze Final match between Argentina and England at Stade de France on October 27, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Franco Arland/Getty Images)

This match-day squad made up of England rugby talent playing abroad – as of next season – showcases the significant talent drain from the Gallagher Premiership in recent times.


Brimming with seasoned internationals and promising talents yet to earn their Test stripes, it demonstrates just how much English player power is heading abroad; and makes for an eye-watering-ly strong 23.

1. Hayden Thompson-Stringer
The former England U20s and Saracens loosehead is currently at Australian Super Rugby Pacific side the Waratahs.

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2. Jack Singleton
With just four caps, Singleton has had limited opportunities to establish himself within the England setup but has shown potential when called upon. He’s currently on loan with Toulon although RugbyPass understands he could well be returning to the Premiership next season.

3. Kyle Sinckler
Sinckler had been a crucial member of the England team for the best part of a decade, contributing significantly in both the scrum and open play, amassing 68 caps. However, mediocre form has seen him slip down the pecking order. He’ll be at Toulon next season.

4. Dave Ribbans
Had eleven caps to his name before deciding to up sticks for Toulon. The 6’7, 116kg second row was just getting going at Test level with England but opted for a lucrative French deal instead of staying put at Northampton.

5. Courtney Lawes
With over 100 Test caps, Lawes has been a seemingly eternal presence in England’s forward pack over the years and has even been tipped to star again for the British & Irish Lions next season. He’s headed to Brive next season after over a 16 years at Franklin’s Gardens.

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England’s Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

6. Jack Willis
Despite a promising start, injuries and a move to Toulouse have limited Willis to just 14 England caps. He decided to stay with the French giants even though it’s ended his Test career for now.

7. Sam Simmonds
With 16 caps, Simmonds had impressed with his pace and power from the back of the scrum for a struggling Montpellier. Although normally a No.8, we’ve moved him to 7 to accommodate the next player on the list.

8. Billy Vunipola
A key figure in the England back row down through the year, Vunipola has over  75 caps, known for his ball-carrying ability and physicality. He’s leaving Saracens for Montpellier at the end of the season.


9. Jack Maunder
The former Exeter Chiefs halfback is playing his rugby at crisis-hit Melbourne Rebels, who are reportedly struggling to stay afloat.

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Rebels move” width=”4544″ height=”3029″ /> (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

10. Owen Farrell
Undoubtedly the biggest transfer of the season, Farrell has 112 caps for England and although he’s signed for Stuart Lancaster’s Racing 92, he’s said he hasn’t given up on making an England return.

11. Henry Arundell
One of England’s most exciting talents, Arundell has earned 10 caps, showing his electrifying pace and scoring ability with a few cameos at the Rugby World Cup. Moved to Racing 92 at the start of this season but is very much seen as a future prospect for England in the Test arena.

Henry Arundell
England cap Henry Arundell has been swiftly won over to the Top 14 at Racing 92 to the extent he has put his Test career on hold to stay in France (Photo Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images)

12. Piers Francis
Francis has appeared in nine Tests for England, offering versatility in the midfield but has struggled to secure a regular starting position before falling out of Test selection. Not playing at the brilliantly named Kurita Water Gush Akishima in Japan.

13. Manu Tuilagi
When not injured, Tuilagi has been a powerful force in England’s midfield for well over a decade. He’s signed for Bayonne after spending his entire career to date in the Gallagher Premiership. He’s probably played his last Test for England.

14. Joe Marchant
Marchant is playing for Stade Francais after an on-again, off-again ‘situationship’ with England came to an end last year. He’s just 27, so has plenty of time to return should he want another crack.

15. Jack Nowell
With 46 caps, Nowell has been a versatile and hard-working player for England before deciding to head to France. Has been bedevilled by injuries and hasn’t played to much for his new club as a result.


16. Sean McNulty
Although he came up in the Irish system, McNulty was born in London and English qualified. He currently plays for the Miami Sharks MLR franchise.

17. Mako Vunipola
Vunipola announced his retirement from Test rugby earlier this year and there are rumours that he will hang up his boots at the end of the season. There are also rumours linking him with a move to France.

18. Will Collier
With just 2 caps, Collier has had limited exposure at the international level. He’ll be at Castres next season.

19. Alex Moon
Moon is also uncapped but was in the England mix until he signed for Bayonne.

20. Lewis Ludlam
Unlucky not to make the starting 15, Ludlam has proven to be a resilient and energetic flanker for England. With 25 caps he looked to be on the verge of a lengthy career before agreeing to join Toulon.

21. Willi Heinz
Although an elder statesman at 37, Heinz is currently on the books with Crusaders back in the country of his birth.

22. Zack Henry
Henry has been enjoying life at Pau since leaving Leicester Tigers.

22. Matt Gallagher
Gallagher has yet to feature for England, still looking for his first cap at the international level. He’s leaving Bath for Benetton at the end of the season.



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Neale 117 days ago

With respect, that side would barely pass muster in the Championship!

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Jon 48 minutes ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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finn 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

12 Go to comments
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