Stuart Lancaster’s final five England debutants, where are they now? - Ruck

Stuart Lancaster’s final five England debutants, where are they now?

Stuart Lancaster faced an immense task when he led England into the 2015 Rugby World Cup held on their home soil.

Regrettably, despite his utmost dedication, England stumbled and were eliminated in the pool stage, making it the first occasion in the tournament’s history that a host nation failed to progress to the knockout stages. This misfortune came about following defeats to Wales and Australia.

Nonetheless, within Lancaster’s perceived shortcomings, some of the last players to make their debut under his leadership flourished and have since ascended to great heights, contributing significantly to Eddie Jones’ triumph in securing two Six Nations championships.

However, it is important to mention that one player has since retired from the sport, while another is still awaiting another opportunity to represent the national team.

Let us now delve deeper into the profiles of the five most recent players who earned their debut under Stuart Lancaster’s tenure with England.

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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.