Spearheading England into a home Rugby World Cup in 2015, Stuart Lancaster had an enormous task on his hands.
Unfortunately, England was eliminated at the pool stage, after defeats by Wales and Australia; this was the first time in the tournament’s history that a solo host nation failed to progress to the knockout stages.
Despite Lancaster’s failings, some of his last debutants have been top-notch, helping Eddie Jones achieve two Six Nations triumphs.
Meanwhile, one player has left the sport and the other hasn’t won another cap since.
Have a look at the last 5 Lancaster debutants with England.
1. Sam Burgess
On 10 August, Burgess was named in the England Elite Squad to make his International début against France at Twickenham on 15 August, in a warm-up match for the Rugby World Cup. He started the game which England won 19-14.
Following his appearance where he was sin-binned, World Cup winning English scrum-half Matt Dawson commented: “You can’t take him to the World Cup for me. He played 80 mins and credit for that. But the way the game went in the second half there was nothing for him to do. The great thing about Burgess is he doesn’t make mistakes with ball in hand. But unfortunately, if you’re going to be really picky, positionally he wasn’t great. He played like a six rather than a 12. There are things that are instinctively he doesn’t know what to do.”
Dawson’s comments came before Lancaster named Burgess as one of four centres to represent England in the World Cup. His inclusion and performances at the World Cup were widely scrutinized, and seen by some pundits as partly to blame for England’s “humiliating” early pool stage exit from the tournament—the worst result for a sole host nation in the tournament’s history.
On 5 November, Burgess made the decision to leave rugby union, opting to return to South Sydney Rabbitohs, signing a three-year contract, approximately worth $1.5m AUD per season.
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2. Calum Clark
The now 29-year-old flanker made his England debut when he started against France on 15 August 2015 in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup. This would be his only cap to date, however, the flanker has enjoyed considerable success with club side Saracens.
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3. Henry Slade
Slade also won his first cap against France but has gone onto become a regular of squads since. Lancaster selected the Exeter man for the World Cup with the centre winning his second England cap again against Uruguay in the final pool game, scoring a try.
Slade suffered a nasty broken leg for Exeter Chiefs in the 2015/16 season ruling him out for the six nations under new coach Eddie Jones. Despite this Slade recovered from his injury and has won 26 caps thus far.