"Massive Honour" - Gloucester Head Coach George Skivington to Coach England 'A' Against Portugal - Ruck

“Massive Honour” – Gloucester Head Coach George Skivington to Coach England ‘A’ Against Portugal

England Rugby have confirmed that George Skivington will head up an all-Gallagher Premiership line-up of coaching staff, for England A against Portugal next month.

The A side (formerly known as England Saxons) return after an eight-year absence for an encounter with Os Lobos at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road Stadium, on Sunday 25 February, kicking-off at 13:00.

Skivington will be joined by fellow Gloucester Rugby coach Dom Waldouck, who will lead on defence, whilst Northampton Saints’ Sam Vesty will be in charge of England A’s attack.

Having retired from a successful playing career with Wasps in 2016, Skivington moved into coaching, firstly with Samoa in 2015 before working at London Irish as an assistant coach between 2016 and 2020. He was later appointed head coach at Gloucester Rugby in 2020.

George Skivington, Head Coach of Gloucester Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm Stadium on October 29 2021 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Speaking ahead of the announcement, George Skivington voiced his delight in being confirmed as the England Men’s A head coach.

“It’s a massive honour to be asked by Conor (O’Shea) and Steve (Borthwick) to lead the England Men’s A team next month. I recognise the trust they have placed in me with this opportunity, and I look forward to linking up with the coaching group and the squad in February.

“I’m delighted that Dom Waldouck will be joining me as defence coach. His passion for the game and dedication to his craft makes him an exciting young coach who I think will develop to be one of the best in the country.

“The England Men’s A team will serve as a good opportunity for young English players on the cusp of international honours to show what they’re about.”

Sam Vesty said: “It’s always a privilege and an honour to be asked to help support England, to wear a Red Rose on your chest and to compete at a high level, so I can’t wait to get started.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to work with some of the best young talent in the country. We’ll be encouraging these players to go out and play what’s in front of them, getting their eyes up and putting their best foot forward – both in terms of playing well in the game against Portugal, but also hopefully progressing on to further honours with England.

“It’s a great learning and development opportunity as well for me to experience a different environment, working with different players and coaches, and I’ll head into camp with a really open mind.”

RFU Executive Director of Performance Rugby Conor O’Shea said: “On behalf of the RFU, I’d like to thank both Gloucester and Northampton, alongside Premiership Rugby, for their collaboration and effort in assembling what is a very exciting coaching panel ahead of our Men’s A fixture against Portugal next month.

“We’re fortunate to possess a coaching staff boasting a wealth of experience in the game that totals decades and will be a fantastic match for the appropriate challenge of Os Lobos.

“Each member of the coaching staff was picked with the consideration of their ability to develop young players and bringing international talent to the top of English rugby.

“This fixture, as well as the England Men’s A games to come, aims to elevate that platform and build a consistent pathway for young English players into the senior level of the game in this country.”

Skivington is no stranger to the England A team environment, having captained the side on a number of occasions with the Saxons. He lifted the Churchill Cup in 2010, having also played in a 66-0 win over Portugal back in 2009.

Dom Waldouck accompanied Skivington in that victory, and scored a try in the only previous meeting of the nation’s 15 years ago at Sedgley Park. The 36-year-old also has playing experience with the England U20 Men’s team.

Former centre Waldouck has been a part of the coaching group at Kingsholm since Skivington’s appointment four seasons ago and previously lifted the Heineken Cup and Premiership title as a Wasps player.

Sam Vesty, the current head coach of Northampton Saints, will lead the A side’s attack. Vesty’s Saints are currently top of the Gallagher Premiership table, and have been the Premiership’s leading try-scorers for the last two seasons.

A previous Leicester Tigers player, Vesty knows Welford Road well having made 164 appearences for the club. He was the fourth member of his family to play for Leicester, before moving to Bath Rugby where he made a further 64 appearances. The utility back retired in 2013 before taking on a coaching role at Worcester Warriors. Whilst at Sixways, Vesty was appointed skills coach for England’s two-Test tour of Argentina. In 2018, he was named Northampton Saints attack coach.

The coaching team was chosen in consultation alongside Premiership Rugby, and the match day 23 to play Portugal will be agreed alongside England senior head coach Steve Borthwick. This will be the first England A side since 2016, with Portugal looking to build on their Rugby World Cup momentum, after shocking the world with victory over Fiji.

Portugal will provide a stern test for England Men’s A team after a strong showing in last year’s Rugby World Cup, which included a draw against Georgia followed by a maiden tournament win over quarter-finalists Fiji.

“Time to Impress” – Predicting the England ‘A’ Team to Play Portugal

England have certainly entered a new era following the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with this no more apparent than in the re-introduction of the England A side. Historically known as England Saxons, the development team is taking on Portugal in February 2024.

England Saxons, Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers) goes over for a try – Photo mandatory by-line:Phil Mingo/Pinnacle – Tel: +44(0)1363 881025 – Mobile:0797 1270 681 – VAT Reg No: 768 6958 48 – 28/01/2012 – SPORT – RUGBY UNION – England Saxons v Ireland Wolfhounds, Sandy Park, Exeter, Devon

Coming at a busy time in both England and Portugal’s schedule, the fixture has been booked in for Sunday February 24th, and will be hosted at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road. The match in the middle of the 2024 Six Nations and Rugby Europe Championship, takes place the day after England’s match against Scotland at BT Murrayfield Stadium.

The England A side presents an opportunity for the most aspiring young players, and those on the senior team fringes in the Six Nations wider training squad. In a statement on the England Rugby website, RFU Executive Director of Performance Rugby Conor O’Shea said; “It brings us great excitement to be renewing our A side in 2024.”

England team line up for the national anthems during the Six Nations Championship match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 26th 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“Historically it has been a platform for some of the country’s next best players to showcase their talent whilst representing England.

“Portugal demonstrated their capabilities as a rugby nation on the world stage in recent months with their attacking flair and passion – we can’t wait for more of that in the New Year. They are a team possessing many bright stars for the future and are a befitting opponent for our A squad.

“England Rugby wants to be part of providing game time and mutual collaboration for emerging nations such as Portugal, who have a great deal to offer to the game and I’m sure both they and our A side will gain a lot from February’s match. This builds on partnerships we have with other emerging nations and are looking to develop further links with other emerging unions.”

Here are RUCK’s Predictions, for the England A side that will take on Portugal on February 24th 2024.


Exeter Chiefs player Josh Hodge attacks Leicester Tigers player Matt Scott during the Gallagher Premiership rugby game between Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road on Sept 18th – PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK

15. Josh Hodge (Exeter Chiefs)

14. Cadan Murley (Harlequins)

11. Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons)

We’ve predicted a high-octane back-three to start against Portugal, to set an exhilarating tempo along the touch-lines. After ending the 2022/23 Premiership season as the top try-scorer (with 15 tries), Harlequins’ speedster Cadan Murley is ticking all the boxes for his long-awaited England call-up. Borthwick has previously included Murley in his wider training squads, but has not yet awarded the winger his test match debut.

We’ve predicted Adam Radwan to partner Murley along the wings, as the Newcastle Falcons man has been in flying form up in the North East. Radwan is already off the mark for the new season with a try against Gloucester, and is eyeing a return to an England jersey having been overlooked in recent years. Radwan’s England debut came in the Summer of 2021 against Canada, with his second and final cap so far coming the following Autumn against Fiji.

We’ve pinned electric Exeter fullback Josh Hodge for our predicted 15 jersey, with Borthwick more than likely already spying the talented 23-year-old. Hodge flew out of the gate for the 2023/24 season, scoring six tries in his first four matches of the season. Hodge contributed an awesome hat-trick against Saracens, as the Chiefs handed the reigning Champions their heaviest ever Premiership defeat last month at Sandy Park (65-10).


Guy Porter of Leicester Tigers during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on 11 June. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

13. Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers)

12. Seb Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby)

Guy Porter was called up into the wider England training group for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, yet was let back to Welford Road as Borthwick thinned out his squad. Porter made his sixth test cap in the Summer, but was released after England suffered a 20-9 defeat to Wales in Cardiff. Porter is certainly going to push for more minutes in the 2024 Six Nations, with this mid-competition test presenting a golden opportunity to showcase his talents.

With Joe Marchant off to Stade Francais, the former Harlequin ends his tenure in the England midfield. Manu Tuilagi’s immediate future is also unconfirmed, with a power struggle set to in-sue. Exeter’s Henry Slade has returned to top form, and could well return to Borthwick’s squad for the Six Nations. We can see Slade getting the nod, with Gloucester’s Seb Atkinson on the fringes for this England A squad. Atkinson has been turning heads in the Premiership, due to his expert playmaking from the 12 channel.