We are set for a new look England team in next February’s 2024 Six Nations, as following the end of the 2022/23 season, numerous international talents have moved overseas. The current RFU eligibility laws rule out players at clubs outside of England, to represent Steve Borthwick’s side in full test matches.
This has put an end to many a promising England career, following the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The list of England talents based overseas is reported to grow ahead of the 2024/25 campaign, with Bristol Bears prop Kyle Sinckler and Northampton Saints back-row Lewis Ludlam reportedly in talks with French Top 14 side Toulon.
Saracens’ versatile back Elliot Daly and Bath prop Will Stuart, are also amongst the England talents that have also reportedly caught the eye of France’s transfer agents. No deals have been officially put on the table for these two as of yet, however the French Top 14 certainly remains a ‘land of plenty’ for England’s top players. As well as France, the United Rugby Championship and Super Rugby have provided opportunities for top England hopefuls to hone their crafts.
Here is RUCK’s Ultimate XV, of England Players that are currently based overseas.
15. Henry Arundell (Racing 92)
14. Jack Nowell (La Rochelle)
11. Marcus Watson (Benetton)
We begin with an anomaly of the team at fullback, as speedster Henry Arundell remains eligible for England, despite now running out for the aptly named Racing 92. Arundell joined up with the Parisian side after the financial collapse of London Irish left him without a club. The winger remains eligible to play for England in the 2024 Six Nations, permitting that he does not extend his contract in France. The 21-year-old has had an immediate impact in the French capital, and marked his debut with a hat-trick of tries against Toulon last weekend.
On the right wing is our first of many former Exeter Chiefs players, that left Sandy Park at the end of the 2022/23 Premiership season. Due to financial struggles at the Devon club, Exeter Chiefs were forced to let their top players seek employment from elsewhere. Jack Nowell found a new home in France, but is yet to score his first try after six full matches for La Rochelle. Interestingly, Nowell has been utilised at outside centre for Stade Rochelais, despite playing on the wing in all 46 of his England caps. Nowell’s last game for the Chiefs was a Champions Cup semi-final defeat to his new club, who are looking to win a trio of back-to-back European titles.
Coming in on the left wing is Marcus Watson, who has settled into Italian life following the collapse of Wasps. Watson was picked up by United Rugby Championship side Benetton, and re-united with his Wasps teammate Jacob Umaga at the Treviso club. Watson scored seven tries in his first full season at Benetton, as the Italian club reached the semi-finals of the EPCR Challenge Cup. Watson narrowly edges ahead of Arundell’s Racing 92 teammate Christian Wade to start in our Ultimate Exiles XV, after a short-lived NFL career at the Buffalo Bills brought the flying winger back to rugby union.
13. Harry Potter (Western Force)
12. Joe Marchant (Stade Francais)
Onto the midfield now, with our pick for the outside centre going to the latest England prospect to move ‘down under’. Born in Wimbledon before moving to Melbourne at an early age, Potter is eligible to represent England and the Wallabies at international level. The versatile back came through the ranks at Melbourne Rebels, before he headed back to England for a three year stint at Leicester Tigers.
Despite being on many England fans radar for his ‘magical’ (couldn’t resist) performances at Welford Road, Potter was not awarded an England debut, and could well be on his way to pulling on the gold jersey. Capable of running out on the wings, centres or fullback, Potter has bolstered the Western Forces’ ranks down in Super Rugby and will make his debut for the Perth side next season. Linking up with Potter in our Ultimate XV is Joe Marchant, who ended his England career following an impressive Rugby World Cup campaign.
Marchant was amongst Borthwick’s top performers at the World Cup, yet the versatile playmaker booked a one-way ticket for the trip to France. The 27-year-old left Harlequins after a decade at the Stoop, that included a season long sabbatical with the Auckland Blues. Marchant remains in Paris with his move to Stade Francais, after he formed a nice centre partnership with Manu Tuilagi throughout England’s campaign. Marchant leaves a key vacancy in Borthwick’s back-line, with Bath powerhouse Ollie Lawrence, or Exeter’s form-finding Henry Slade looking like the leading candidates for the spot.