"Underwhelming" - Sir Clive Woodward slams disappointing England World Cup squad - Ruck

“Underwhelming” – Sir Clive Woodward slams disappointing England World Cup squad

Sir Clive Woodward has been left less than impressed with Steve Borthwick’s big calls ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The England head coach named his 33-man squad for the showpiece event on Monday with Alex Dombrandt and Henry Slade being the two most notable omissions.

Starting off in his latest column for the Mail Online, Woodward wrote: “Borthwick had the chance to excite the nation — not only with the 33 players he picked, but also with the messaging he delivered at Twickenham on Monday.”

He continued: “Looking at the reaction to the squad on social media, the overriding verdict was underwhelming. I can sympathise with that view.

“In terms of personnel, the make-up of the squad shows exactly what England fans can expect in France: a direct, physical approach.”

Woodward pointed to the same issues as many fans, continuing: “Borthwick has taken a huge risk and left himself wide open for criticism with certain sections of his squad — in midfield and at No 8.

“Slade is an excellent player, but whether or not he is in the squad is not going to define England’s World Cup chances. His absence is a huge call though because without him, Borthwick has named only three out-and-out midfielders.

“They are Tuilagi, Ollie Lawrence and Joe Marchant. My concern is that Farrell will end up covering at No 12 when he is at his best when controlling the team from fly-half.

“Farrell is England’s big hope of a successful World Cup.”

England name their most diverse World Cup squad of all-time with six players born overseas

Steve Borthwick’s latest selection showcases the most culturally varied England squad heading into a World Cup, incorporating six players hailing from six distinct nations across four continents.


Marcus Smith (Philippines)

He comes from a diverse background, with his mother being Filipino and his father English. As the eldest of three brothers, their family spent seven years in the Philippines before relocating to Singapore. Eventually, they settled in Brighton, England, when Smith was 13 years old. A testament to his roots, he proudly displays a tattoo on his left arm representing his country of birth.

At the age of 14, he underwent a trial with Harlequins, and upon completing his education at 18, he joined the club on a full-time basis. He swiftly found himself in the limelight as he was brought into the Harlequins’ first team due to a series of injuries. His debut in the Gallagher Premiership occurred against London Irish at Twickenham in September 2017. Throughout the 2017-18 season, he impressively initiated 18 league matches.

Although he was just a young child when England claimed victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, he still recalls watching the momentous event alongside his father. Among his role models, he counts Jonny Wilkinson, the iconic figure of that triumph, as one of his heroes.

In his journey to becoming a professional rugby player, he has had the privilege of engaging in kicking sessions with none other than Jonny Wilkinson himself.