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England national rugby union team

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Union Rugby Football Union
Emblem(s) Red Rose
Ground(s) Twickenham
Coach(es) Stuart Lancaster
Captain(s) Chris Robshaw
Most caps Jason Leonard (114)
Top scorer Jonny Wilkinson (1,246)
Most tries Rory Underwood (49)
Team kit
Change kit
First international
(also the world's first international)
 Scotland 1–0 England 
( 27 March 1871)
Largest win
 England 134–0 Romania 
(17 November 2001)
Largest defeat
  Australia 76–0 England 
(6 June 1998)
World Cup
Appearances 7 (First in 1987)
Best result Champions, 2003

The England national rugby union team represents England in rugby union. They compete in the annual Six Nations Championship with France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Wales. They have won this championship on 26 occasions, 12 times winning the Grand Slam, making them the most successful team in the tournament's history. They are ranked fourth in the world by the International Rugby Board as of 28 January 2013. England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and finished runners-up in 1991 and 2007. A recent highlight for the national team has been a monumental 38–21 victory over the world champion All Blacks in the 2012 Autumn Tests.

The history of the team extends back to 1871 when the English rugby team played their first official Test match, losing to Scotland by one try. England dominated the early Home Nations Championship (now the Six Nations) which started in 1883. Following the schism of rugby football in 1895, England did not win the Championship again until 1910. England first played against New Zealand in 1905, South Africa in 1906, and Australia in 1909. England was one of the teams invited to take part in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and went on to appear in the final in the second cup in 1991, losing 12–6 to Australia. Following their 2003 Six Nations Grand Slam, England won that year's World Cup – beating Australia 20–17 in extra time. They also contested the final in 2007, losing 15–6 to South Africa.

England players traditionally wear a white shirt with a Rose embroidered on the chest, white shorts, and navy blue socks with a white trim.

Their home ground is Twickenham Stadium where they first played in 1910. The team is administered by the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Four former players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame; one of these is also a member of the IRB Hall of Fame. Five other former players are members of the IRB Hall—two solely for their accomplishments as players, two solely for their achievements in other roles in the sport, and one for achievements both as a player and administrator.


England before they played in the first international; versus Scotland in Edinburgh, 1871.

The expansion of rugby in the first half of the 19th century was driven by ex-pupils from many of England's Public Schools, especially Rugby, who, upon finishing school, took the game with them to universities, to London, and to the counties. England's first international match was against Scotland on Monday 27 March 1871. Not only was this match England's first, but it also proved to be the first ever rugby union international. Scotland won the match by a goal and a try to a try, in front of a crowd of 4,000 people at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh. A subsequent international took place at the Oval in London on 5 February 1872 which saw England defeat Scotland by a goal, a drop goal and two tries to one drop goal. In those early days there was no points system, it was only after 1890 that a format allowing the introduction of a points system was provided. Up until 1875 international rugby matches were decided by the number of goals scored (conversions and dropped goals), but from 1876 the number of tries scored could be used to decide a match if teams were level on goals.

In 1875, England played their first game against the Irish at the Oval, winning by one goal, one drop goal and one try to nil; the match was Ireland's first ever Test. England defeated Scotland in 1880 to become the first winners of the Calcutta Cup. Their first match against Wales was played on 19 February 1881 at Richardson's Field in Blackheath. England recorded their largest victory, defeating the Welsh by seven goals, six tries, and one drop goal to nil and scoring 13 tries in the process. The subsequent meeting the following year at St Helens in Swansea was a closer contest; with England winning by two goals and four tries to nil Two years later, the first Home Nations championship was held and England emerged as the inaugural winners. In 1889, England played their first match against a non-home nations team when they defeated the New Zealand Natives by one goal and four tries to nil at Rectory Field in Blackheath. In 1890 England shared the Home Nations trophy with Scotland.

England first played New Zealand (the All Blacks) in 1905. The All Blacks scored five tries, worth three points at this time, to win 15–0. The following year, they played France for the first time, and later that year they first faced South Africa (known as the Springboks); James Peters was withdrawn from the England squad after the South Africans objected to playing against a black player. The match was drawn 3–3. England first played France in 1905, and Australia (known as the Wallabies) in 1909 when they were defeated 3–9.

England versus New Zealand's Original All Blacks in 1905; the All Blacks won 15–0.

The year 1909 saw the opening of Twickenham as the RFU's new home, which heralded a golden era for English rugby union. England's first international at Twickenham brought them victory over Wales, and England went on to win the International Championship (then known as the Five Nations) for the first time since the great schism of 1895. Although England did not retain the title in 1911, they did share it in 1912. A Five Nations Grand Slam was then achieved in 1913 and 1914 as well as in 1921 following the First World War. England subsequently won the Grand Slam in 1924 and as well as in 1925. This was despite having started 1925 with a loss to the All Black Invincibles in front of 60,000 fans at Twickenham.

After winning another Grand Slam in 1928, England played the Springboks in front of 70,000 spectators at Twickenham in 1931. Following the ejection of France due to professionalism in 1930, which thus reverted The Five Nations back to the Home Nations tournament, England went on to win the 1934 and 1937 Home Nations with a Triple Crown, and in 1935 achieved their first victory over the All Blacks.

When the Five Nations resumed with the re-admission of France in 1947 after the Second World War, England shared the championship with Wales. The early Five Nations competitions of the 1950s were unsuccessful for England, winning one match in the 1950 and 1951 championships. England won the 1953 Five Nations, and followed this up with a Grand Slam in 1957, and win in 1958. England broke France's four-championship streak by winning the 1963 Championship. After this victory, England played three Tests in the Southern Hemisphere and lost all three: 21–11 and 9–6 against the All Blacks, and 18–9 against Australia. England did not win a single match in 1966, and managed only a draw with Ireland. They did not win another Championship that decade.

Don White was appointed as England's first-ever coach in 1969. According to former Northampton player Bob Taylor, "Don was chosen because he was the most forward-thinking coach in England". His first match in charge was an 11–8 victory over South Africa at Twickenham in 1969. Of the eleven games England played with White in charge they won three, and drew one and lost seven. He resigned as England coach in 1971.

England had wins against Southern Hemisphere teams in the 1970s; with victories over South Africa in 1972, New Zealand in 1973 and Australia in 1973 and 1976. The 1972 Five Nations Championship was not completed due to the Troubles in Northern Ireland when Scotland and Wales refused to play their Five Nations away fixtures in Ireland. England played in Dublin in 1973 and were given a standing ovation lasting five minutes. After losing 18–9 at Lansdowne Road, the England captain, John Pullin famously stated, "We might not be very good but at least we turned up."

England started the following decade with a Grand Slam victory in the 1980 Five Nations – their first for 23 years. However in the 1983 Five Nations Championship, England failed to win a game and picked up the wooden spoon. In the first Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, England were grouped in pool A alongside Australia, Japan and the United States. England lost their first game 19–6 against Australia. They went on to defeat Japan and the United States, and met Wales in their quarter-final, losing the match 16–3.

In 1989, England won matches against Romania and Fiji, followed by victories in their first three Five Nations games of 1990. They lost to Scotland in their last game however, giving Scotland a Grand Slam. England recovered in the following year by winning their first Grand Slam since 1980. England hosted the 1991 World Cup and were in pool A, along with the All Blacks, Italy and the United States. Although they lost to the All Blacks in pool play, they qualified for a quarter-final going on to defeat France 19–10. England then defeated Scotland 9–6 to secure a place in the final against Australia which they lost 12–6.

The next year, England completed another Grand Slam and did not lose that year, including a victory over the Springboks. In the lead up to the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, England completed another Grand Slam – their third in five years. In the World Cup, England defeated Argentina, Italy and Samoa in pool play and then defeated Australia 25–22 in their quarter-final. England's semi-final was dominated by the All Blacks and featured four tries, now worth five points each, by Jonah Lomu; England lost 45–29. They then lost the third/fourth place play-off match against France.

In 1997, Clive Woodward became England's coach. That year, England drew with New Zealand at Twickenham after being heavily defeated in Manchester the week before. England toured Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in 1998. Many of the England team made themselves unavailable for the tour nicknamed the "tour from hell" where England suffered a record 76–0 defeat to the Wallabies. In 1999 during the last ever Five Nations match, Scott Gibbs sliced through six English tackles to score in the last minute, and the last ever Five Nations title went to Scotland.

Celebrations at Trafalgar Square after England's 2003 World Cup victory.

England commenced the new decade by winning the inaugural Six Nations title. In 2001, Ireland defeated England 20–14 in a postponed match at Lansdowne Road to deny them a Grand Slam. Although the 2002 Six Nations Championship title was won by France, England had the consolation of winning the Triple Crown. In 2002, England defeated Argentina in Buenos Aires, and then a second string All Blacks, Australia, and South Africa at Twickenham. In 2003, England won the Grand Slam for the first time since 1995, followed by wins over Australia and the All Blacks on their Summer tour in June.

Going into the 2003 World Cup, England were one of the tournament favourites. They reached the final on 22 November 2003 against Australia and became World champions after a match-winning drop goal by Jonny Wilkinson in extra time that made the final score 20–17. On 8 December, the English team greeted 750,000 supporters on their victory parade through London before meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

The England national rugby union squad in a drill, during training for the 2007 Rugby World Cup at the University of Bath training ground.

In the 2004 Six Nations Championship, England lost to both France and Ireland and finished third. Sir Clive Woodward resigned on 2 September and Andy Robinson was appointed England head coach. Robinson's first Six Nations campaign in 2005 resulted in fourth place for England, and although they then defeated Australia 26–16, the year was completed with a 23–19 loss to the All Blacks.

Following their loss to South Africa in the 2006 end of year Tests, England had lost eight of their last nine Tests – their worst ever losing streak. Coach Andy Robinson resigned after this run, and attack coach Brian Ashton was appointed head coach in December 2006. England started the 2007 Six Nations Championship with a Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland. The championship also included a historic match at Croke Park against Ireland which England lost 43–13, their heaviest ever defeat to Ireland.

In the 2007 World Cup England played in Pool A with Samoa, Tonga, South Africa and the United States. They qualified for the quarter finals after losing embarrassingly to South Africa 36–0 where they defeated Australia 12–10, and then faced hosts France in their semi final. England won 14–9 to qualify for the final against South Africa, which they lost 15–6. England followed up the World Cup with two consecutive 2nd place finishes in the Six Nations, behind Wales and Ireland respectively. The 2009 Six Nations also saw Martin Johnson take up the job of Head Coach. Johnson resigned in November 2011 following a miserable World Cup which ended in quarter-final defeat by France and featured a series of on and off-field controversies.


Aerial view of Twickenham Stadium

Up until 1910, the English rugby team used various stadia in a number of venues around England before settling at Twickenham Stadium. After sell-out matches at Crystal Palace in 1905 and 1906 against New Zealand and South Africa respectively, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) decided to invest in their own ground. In 1906, the RFU arranged for William Williams to find a home ground for English Rugby. The land for the ground was purchased the following year for £5,572 12 s and 6 d, and construction began the following year.

The first England match was held on 9 October 1910 between England and Wales. England ran out winners, 11–6, beating Wales for the first time since 1898. The stadium was expanded in 1927 and again in 1932. Further upgrades did not happen until the 1990s when new North, East and West stands were built. A new South stand was built in 2005 and 2006 to make the stadium into a complete bowl. The first match to be played at the redeveloped Twickenham was on Sunday 5 November 2006 against the All Blacks. England lost the match 20–41 in front of a record crowd of 82,076.

Although England have played home matches almost exclusively at Twickenham since 1910, they have played at Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium twice in 1998, at Old Trafford against New Zealand in 1997 and at Wembley Stadium against Canada in 1992. In addition, they also played the first of a two-test series against Argentina at Old Trafford in June 2009, a match originally scheduled to be held in Argentina but moved by the country's national federation for financial reasons.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is very commonly sung at England fixtures – especially at Twickenham. The song arrived in the rugby canon through the Welsh male voice choirs who sang many spirituals. It was a popular rugby song at clubs during the 1950s and 1960s and was sung every year at Twickenham during the end-of-season all-day Middlesex Sevens tournament accompanied by risqué hand gestures that played on the double entendres of some of the words. During the 1970s the Twickenham crowd also sang it during England matches then coming into the last match of the 1988 season, against the Irish, England had lost 15 of their previous 23 matches in the Five Nations Championship. The Twickenham crowd had only seen one solitary England try in the previous two years and at half time against Ireland they were 0–3 down. During the second half a remarkable transformation took place and England started playing an expansive game many had doubted they were capable of producing. A 0–3 deficit was turned into a 35–3 win, with England scoring six tries.

In the 35–3 win, three of England's tries were scored by Chris Oti, a player who had made a reputation for himself that season as a speedster on the left wing. A group of boys from the Benedictine school Douai following a tradition at their school games sang the song on his final try, and other spectators around the ground joined in. Since then Swing Low, Sweet Chariot became a song to sing at England home games, in the same way that The Fields of Athenry is sung in Dublin and Cwm Rhondda is sung at Cardiff. It has since become the anthem of the team as in 1991 the result of a plan of the then RFU marketing director Mike Coley for the team to launch a song leading up to that year's Rugby World cup. He had wanted to use Jerusalem but it was used in the Rugby League cup final that year so the song was changed at short notice to Swing Low. there were a number of versions recorded including a 'rap' version with Jerry Guscott doing a solo. Needless to say that was never released but the version released did reach the top 40 in the UK singles chart during the competition and was then adopted as the England rugby song.


England (white) playing Argentina (blue) at Twickenham.

England have returned to the traditional all-white shirts, white shorts with navy and white socks. The emblem on the shirts is a red rose, rather than the Plantagenet Three Lions displayed on the shirts of the England football and cricket teams. The strip is manufactured by Canterbury and O2 is the shirt sponsor. Red was the change strip, although prior to the introduction of the red strip, navy blue was used. Purple was used as the change strip as of the 2009 autumn internationals, reflecting the traditional colour of the original England track-suits from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. For the 2011 Rugby World Cup the change kit was black.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) had created the national side's emblem prior to an English team being sent to Edinburgh to play a Scottish side. A red rose was chosen to be the side's emblem. The white kit worn by the national team was taken from the kit used at Rugby School. Alfred Wright, an employee of the Rugby Football Union, is credited with the standardisation and new design of the rose, which up until 1920 had undergone many variations in its depiction. The Wright design is thought to have been used without minor alteration until the late 1990s. It was not until 1997 that the rose was modernised when Nike became the official strip supplier.

In 2003 England first used a skin-tight strip. This was intended to make it more difficult for the opposition to grasp the shirt when tackling. The home and away strips for 2007 were unveiled on 15 May that year. The materials used are superior, offering improved performance to the 2003 kit. However, a sweeping red mark on the base-white front which forms St George's Cross on the top left, and a changed away-strip (dark blue to red), have received criticism because it is felt that emphasis has been placed on St George's Cross at the expense of the traditional red rose. The new strip was introduced in England's home game against Wales on 4 August, while the alternative strip was first used against France on 18 August.

The former England home strip is white with a strip of red around the neck, and the away strip is black (causing much controversy due to the famous All-Black kit of New Zealand), both kits have a ground breaking new technology in the form of a gripper print. A special strip was worn during the match versus Wales in the 2010 Six Nations Championship which replicated that worn in 1910 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Twickenham. The current England strip is made by Canterbury which features a plain white strip with a purple and gold aways strip identical to the former Arsenal football club`s away kit.


IRB World Rankings
Top 25 Rankings as of 25 March 2013
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 90.08
2 Steady   South Africa 86.94
3 Steady   Australia 86.87
4 Steady  England 83.72
5 Steady  Wales 83.36
6 Steady   France 81.59
7 Steady   Samoa 78.71
8 Steady   Argentina 78.71
9 Steady  Ireland 78.05
10 Steady  Scotland 76.86
11 Steady   Tonga 76.10
12 Steady   Italy 76.06
13 Steady   Fiji 71.52
14 Steady   Canada 71.41
15 Steady   Japan 70.09
16 Steady   United States 68.32
17 Steady   Georgia 67.66
18 Steady   Romania 65.82
19 Steady   Russia 62.34
20 Steady   Spain 60.44
21 Steady   Uruguay 59.37
22 Steady   Portugal 58.82
23 Steady   Namibia 58.45
24 Steady   Belgium 57.52
25 Steady   Chile 57.02
*Change from the previous week
England's Historical Rankings
England IRB World Rankings.png
Source: IRB - Graph updated to 25 March 2013

Six Nations

England competes annually in the Six Nations Championship, which is played against five other European nations: France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. The Six Nations started out as the Home Nations Championship in 1883 which England won with a Triple Crown. England have won the title more times than any other nation by winning it outright 26 times, and sharing victory eleven times. Their longest wait between championships was 18 years (1892–1910). During the Six Nations, England also contests the Calcutta Cup with Scotland (which England first won in 1880) and the Millennium Trophy with Ireland (which England first won in 1988). The matches between England and France are traditionally known as " Le Crunch."






Tournaments 117 84 119 14 119 119
Outright Wins (Shared Wins)
Home Nations 5 (4) NA 4 (4) NA 9 (2) 7 (4)
Five Nations 17 (6) 12 (8) 6 (5) NA 5 (6) 15 (8)
Six Nations 4 5 1 0 0 4
Overall 26 (10) 17 (8) 11 (9) 0 (0) 14 (8) 26 (12)
Grand Slams
Home Nations 0 NA 0 NA 0 2
Five Nations 11 6 1 NA 3 6
Six Nations 1 3 1 0 0 3
Overall 12 9 2 0 3 11
Triple Crowns
Home Nations 5 NA 2 NA 7 6
Five Nations 16 NA 4 NA 3 11
Six Nations 2 NA 4 NA 0 3
Overall 23 NA 10 NA 10 20
Wooden Spoons
Home Nations 11 NA 15 NA 8 8
Five Nations 14 17 21 NA 21 12
Six Nations 0 1 0 9 3 1
Overall 25 18 36 9 32 21

World Cup

England has contested every Rugby World Cup since it began in 1987, reaching the final three times and winning it once in 2003.

In the inaugural tournament they finished second in their pool before losing to Wales in the quarter-finals. They again finished pool runners-up in 1991 but recovered to beat France in their quarter-final, and then Scotland in their semi-final, en route to a 12–6 final defeat to Australia.

In 1995 England topped their group and defeated Australia 25–22 at the quarter-final stage before being beaten by the All Blacks in the semi-final. Their third-fourth place play-off match against France was lost 19–9.

The 1999 competition saw England again finish second in the group stage. Though they proceeded to win a play-off game against Fiji, they went out of the tournament in the quarter-finals, losing 44–21 to South Africa.

England exacted revenge over South Africa in the early stages of the 2003 tournament, winning 25–6 to qualify for the knockout stages as winners of Pool C. They defeated Wales in their quarter-final, before a subsequent semi-final victory against the French earned them a place in the final in Sydney. After a tense match and a 20-minute period of extra time, Jonny Wilkinson kicked over a drop goal and England thereby triumphed 20–17 over Australia to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

The 2007 defence of the cup in France got off to a very poor start, with a below par victory over the United States and a heavy 36–0 defeat to South Africa leaving the holders on the brink of elimination at the group stage. Improved performances against Samoa and Tonga saw England again reach the knockout stages as pool runners-up, before a surprise 12–10 defeat of Australia in Marseille and a narrow 14–9 victory over the host nation France carried England to a second successive final appearance. The final was played in Paris on 20 October against South Africa, who won by 15 points to 6.

England's Jonny Wilkinson became the highest overall points scorer in World Cup history when he kicked all 12 points in England's quarter-final victory over Australia in 2007. He kicked a further 9 points (including a 40-yard (40 m) drop goal) in the semi final and 6 in the final defeat to South Africa. England has the fourth most points in World Cup history with (1,246), and the fourth highest number of tries scored with (131).

Correct as of 8 October 2011

Against Played Won Lost Drawn For Against  % Won
Argentina Argentina
Australia Australia
Fiji Fiji
France France
Georgia (country) Georgia
Italy Italy
Japan Japan
New Zealand New Zealand
Samoa Samoa
Scotland Scotland
South Africa South Africa
Tonga Tonga
United States United States
Uruguay Uruguay
Wales Wales
Total 40 29 11 0 1246 633 72.5


England has won 353 of their 662 Test matches, a winning record of 53.32%. When the World Rankings were introduced in October 2003, England was ranked first. They briefly fell to second in September that year before regaining first place. They fell to second, and then to third in June 2004. After the 2005 Six Nations they fell to sixth where they remained until they moved into fifth in December that year. In 2006, their ranking again fell and they finished the year ranked seventh. 2007 saw them bounce back to third after their good run in that year's World Cup when they finished second. In 2008 their rankings slipped so that during the 2009 Six Nations Championship they dropped to their lowest ranking of eighth. They again were eighth during the autumn internationals of the same year. After a resurgence which saw them rise to a ranking of fourth in the world, the team again slipped, following a poor showing at the Rugby World Cup 2011, and was ranked sixth on 27 February 2012. Following a remarkable 24–22 Six Nations win against France in Paris on 11 March 2012, the team is again ranked fourth in the world as of 12 March 2012.

Their Test record against all nations, updated 16 March 2013:

IRB World Ranking Leaders
New Zealand national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team England national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team England national rugby union team
Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn  % Won Overall
  Argentina 16 11 4 1 70.59%
  Australia 41 16 24 1 39.02%
Barbarians.png Barbarians 12 6 6 0 50.00%
  Canada 6 6 0 0 100%
  Fiji 5 5 0 0 100%
  France 97 53 37 7 54.64%
  Georgia 2 2 0 0 100%
 Ireland 127 73 46 8 57.48%
  Italy 19 19 0 0 100%
  Japan 1 1 0 0 100%
  Netherlands 1 1 0 0 100%
 New Zealand 35 7 27 1 20%
  New Zealand Natives 1 1 0 0 100.00%
  Pacific Islanders 1 1 0 0 100%
  Presidents XV 1 0 1 0 0%
  Romania 5 5 0 0 100%
  Samoa 6 6 0 0 100%
 Scotland 131 71 42 18 54.20%
  South Africa 36 12 22 2 33.33%
  Tonga 2 2 0 0 100%
  United States 5 5 0 0 100%
  Uruguay 1 1 0 0 100%
 Wales 124 56 56 12 45.53%
Total 666 355 261 50 53.30%


Current squad

England's 33-man Elite Player Squad for 2013 Six Nations.

  • Caps updated after the game vs Wales March 2013. (16 March 2013)
  • Head Coach: England Stuart Lancaster
  • Attack Coach: England Mike Catt
  • Defence Coach: England Andy Farrell
  • Forwards Coach: England Graham Rowntree

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by the International Rugby Board.

Player Position Date of Birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Dylan Hartley Hooker (1986-03-24) 24 March 1986 47 England Northampton Saints
Tom Youngs Hooker (1987-01-28) 28 January 1987 9 England Leicester Tigers
Dan Cole Prop (1987-05-09) 9 May 1987 40 England Leicester Tigers
Alex Corbisiero Prop (1988-08-30) 30 August 1988 18 England London Irish
Joe Marler Prop (1990-07-07) 7 July 1990 10 England Harlequins
Mako Vunipola Prop (1991-01-13) 13 January 1991 9 England Saracens
Dave Wilson Prop (1985-04-09) 9 April 1985 26 England Bath
Joe Launchbury Lock (1991-04-12) 12 April 1991 9 England London Wasps
Courtney Lawes Lock (1989-02-23) 23 February 1989 20 England Northampton Saints
Geoff Parling Lock (1983-10-28) 28 October 1983 17 England Leicester Tigers
Calum Clark Flanker (1989-06-10) 10 June 1989 0 England Northampton Saints
Tom Croft Flanker (1985-11-07) 7 November 1985 38 England Leicester Tigers
James Haskell Flanker (1985-04-02) 2 April 1985 50 England London Wasps
Tom Johnson Flanker (1982-07-16) 16 July 1982 5 England Exeter Chiefs
Chris Robshaw ( c) Flanker (1986-06-04) 4 June 1986 17 England Harlequins
Tom Wood Flanker (1986-11-03) 3 November 1986 18 England Northampton Saints
Ben Morgan Number 8 (1989-02-18) 18 February 1989 9 England Gloucester
Thomas Waldrom Number 8 (1983-04-28) 28 April 1983 5 England Leicester Tigers
Danny Care Scrum-half (1987-01-02) 2 January 1987 41 England Harlequins
Lee Dickson Scrum-half (1985-03-29) 29 March 1985 7 England Northampton Saints
Ben Youngs Scrum-half (1989-09-05) 5 September 1989 33 England Leicester Tigers
Freddie Burns Fly-half (1990-05-13) 13 May 1990 1 England Gloucester
Owen Farrell Fly-half (1991-09-24) 24 September 1991 16 England Saracens
Toby Flood Fly-half (1985-08-08) 8 August 1985 57 England Leicester Tigers
Brad Barritt Centre (1986-08-07) 7 August 1986 15 England Saracens
Jonathan Joseph Centre (1991-05-21) 21 May 1991 4 England London Irish
Manu Tuilagi Centre (1991-05-18) 18 May 1991 21 England Leicester Tigers
Billy Twelvetrees Centre (1988-11-15) 15 November 1988 4 England Gloucester
Chris Ashton Wing (1987-03-29) 29 March 1987 34 England Saracens
Ben Foden Fullback (1985-07-22) 22 July 1985 30 England Northampton Saints
David Strettle Wing (1983-07-23) 23 July 1983 13 England Saracens
Mike Brown Fullback (1985-09-04) 4 September 1985 16 England Harlequins
Alex Goode Fullback (1988-05-07) 7 May 1988 11 England Saracens

Notable players

Four former England representatives have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame: Bill Beaumont, Martin Johnson, Jason Leonard and Wavell Wakefield.

Six former England internationals are also members of the IRB Hall of Fame. Three of them—Johnson, Alan Rotherham and Harry Vassall—were inducted for their accomplishments as players. Two other former England players, John Kendall-Carpenter and Clive Woodward, were inducted into the IRB Hall for non-playing accomplishments in the sport. Another former England player, Alfred St. George Hamersley, was inducted for achievements as both a player and a rugby administrator.

Wavell Wakefield represented England in 31 Tests between 1920 and 1927, including 13 Tests as captain. He was involved in three Five Nations Grand Slams in 1921, 1923 and 1924. Playing as flanker, Wakefield introduced new elements to back row tactics which beforehand concentrated on the set piece. He became a Member of Parliament in 1935, and was knighted in 1944. He became the RFU President in 1950 and following his retirement from politics was awarded the title the first Baron Wakefield of Kendal.

Between 1975 and 1982, Bill Beaumont represented England in 34 Tests. Playing at lock, he was captain between 1978 and 1982 in 21 Tests including the 1980 Grand Slam – England's first since 1957. Later that year, he captained the British Lions to South Africa – the first time an Englishman had captained the Lions since 1930. Furthermore, Beaumont represented the Barbarians FC on fifteen occasions.

The youngest ever England captain at 22, Will Carling represented England in 72 Tests, and as captain 59 times between 1988 and 1996. He was best known as a superlative leader, motivating England to a remarkable three Grand Slams in five years, including back to back slams in 1991 and 1992. He also led England to the final of the 1991 World Cup, and captained the Barbarians FC. His playing talents were not as flashy as some of his colleagues, but his effectiveness cemented him as a first choice at centre on the selection sheet. On merit alone it is quite possible he would already be in the Hall of Fame were it not for some outspoken tendencies of his with respect to the English RFU committee ("Old Farts"), who may as a result be reluctant to acknowledge his achievements. He was made an OBE in 1991.

Described as arguably "the greatest forward" to play for England, Martin Johnson played 84 Tests for England, and eight Tests for the British and Irish Lions. He first represented England in 1993, and later that year the Lions. He captained the Lions to South Africa in 1997, and in 1999 was appointed captain of England. He became England's most successful ever captain. He became the first player to captain two Lions tours when he captained them in Australia in 2001. He retired from Test rugby after he led England to a Six Nations Grand Slam and World Cup victory in 2003 and has since become the team Manager. At the 2011 IRB Awards ceremony in Auckland on 24 October 2011, the night after the World Cup Final, Johnson was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame alongside all other World Cup-winning captains from 1987 through 2007 (minus the previously inducted Australian John Eales).

Jason Leonard, also known as "The Fun Bus", appeared 114 times for England at prop, which was the world record for international appearances for a national team until 2005, when it was surpassed by Australia's scrum-half George Gregan. He was on the England team that finished runners up to Australia in the 1991 Rugby World Cup final, but avenged this twelve years later, coming on as a substitute for Phil Vickery in England's victorious 2003 Rugby World Cup final appearance. He also went on three British and Irish Lions tours where he was capped five times.

Alan Rotherham and Harry Vassall, both 19th-century greats for Oxford and England, were inducted into the IRB Hall in April 2011. The IRB recognised them for "their unique contribution to the way that Rugby was played", specifically stating that they "are credited with pioneering the passing game and the three-man backline, which became widespread during the 1880s."

Two other England internationals, John Kendall-Carpenter and Clive Woodward, were inducted into the IRB Hall alongside Johnson at the 2011 IRB Awards. Although both had notable careers for England, they were recognised for accomplishments in other roles in the sport. Kendall-Carpenter was cited as one of four key figures in the creation of the Rugby World Cup, whilst Woodward was inducted as coach of the 2003 World Cup winners, alongside all other World Cup-winning coaches from 1987 to 2007.

England's most recent inductee into the IRB Hall is Alfred St. George Hamersley, inducted in 2013. He played for England in the first-ever rugby union international against Scotland in 1871, and captained England in the last of his four appearances in 1874. Hamersley went on to play significant roles in the early development of the sport in both New Zealand and Canada.

Individual records

Jonny Wilkinson holds the record for most points for England: 1,151. Wilkinson is also the most capped back with 91 caps. The record for tries is held by Rory Underwood with 49 tries. The most capped England player is former prop Jason Leonard who made 114 appearances over his 14-year career. England's youngest ever Test player was Colin Laird who was 18 years and 134 days old when he played against Wales in 1927.


Pennyhill Park Hotel is the chosen training base for the team until the finish of the 2011–12 season. Loughborough University, Bisham Abbey and the University of Bath grounds served as training bases prior to this agreement. Martin Johnson noted the hotel's facilities and its proximity to Twickenham and Heathrow as deciding factors in this decision. The team had their own pitchside gym and fitness rooms constructed on the hotel premises at the start of the long-term arrangement. Since its completion in 2010 the team also regularly use Surrey Sports Park at the University of Surrey in nearby Guildford for much of their training.

Club versus country

England versus New Zealand in 2006.

Although the England team is governed by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), players have been contracted to their clubs since the advent of professionalism in late 1995. Since then, players have often been caught in a "power struggle" between their clubs and the RFU; this is commonly referred to as a club versus country conflict. The first major conflict between England's top clubs (who play in the English Premiership) and the RFU occurred in 1998, when some of the clubs refused to release players to tour Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The tour became known as the "Tour from hell" after an England squad of second-string players were defeated in all four Tests, including a 76–0 defeat by Australia. The clubs also withdrew from the 1998/99 European Cup (now called the Heineken Cup).

In 2001, the top clubs and the RFU formed England Rugby to help govern the club and international game. The parties agreed to restrict the number of matches at club and international level that elite players (a group of 50 or 60 players selected by the RFU) could play in order to prevent player burnout and injuries. In return for releasing players from club commitments, the clubs were to receive compensation from the RFU. This agreement was considered central to the England victory in the 2003 World Cup. Sir Clive Woodward, England coach from November 1997, resigned in 2004 because he was unable to get the access to the players that he wanted; "I wanted more from the union – more training days with the players, more influence over the way they were treated – and ended up with less." Andy Robinson, Woodward's successor, blamed the lack of control over players for his team's unsuccessful record. Brian Ashton, who took over from Robinson, intentionally named his playing squad for Six Nations matches in 2007 at an early opportunity in the hope that their clubs would not play them in the weekend prior to a Test. The RFU and the Premiership clubs are negotiating a similar deal to the one in 2001 that will enable international players to be released into the England squad prior to international matches.


The following is a list of all England coaches. The first appointed coach was Don White in 1969. The current England Manager is Stuart Lancaster. He succeeded Martin Johnson, who stepped down on 16 November 2011 after a disappointing World Cup campaign that also featured several off-field controversies. Lancaster, as England Manager, is responsible for the coaching appointments. The coaching team currently includes offensive coaches, defensive coaches, kicking coaches, scrumming, tackling etc.

(French player Pierre Villepreux was coaching the team during a brief part of 1989, for a training camp in Portugal)

Updated 16 March 2013

Name Tenure Tests Won Drew Lost Win percentage
Don White 20 December 1969 – 17 April 1971 700111000000000000011 70003000000000000003 70001000000000000001 70007000000000000007 700127300000000000027.3
John Elders 1972 – 16 March 1974 700116000000000000016 70006000000000000006 70001000000000000001 70009000000000000009 700137500000000000037.5
John Burgess 18 January 1975 – 31 May 1975 70006000000000000006 70001000000000000001 50000000000000000000 70005000000000000005 700116700000000000016.7
Peter Colston 3 January 1976 – 17 March 1979 700118000000000000018 70006000000000000006 70001000000000000001 700111000000000000011 700133300999990000033.3
Mike Davis 24 November 1979 – 6 March 1982 700116000000000000016 700110000000000000010 70002000000000000002 70004000000000000004 700162500000000000062.5
Dick Greenwood 15 January 1983 – 20 April 1985 700117000000000000017 70004000000000000004 70002000000000000002 700111000000000000011 700123500000000000023.5
Martin Green 1 June 1985 – 8 June 1987 700114000000000000014 70005000000000000005 50000000000000000000 70009000000000000009 700135700000000000035.7
Geoff Cooke 16 January 1988 – 19 March 1994 700150000000000000050 700136000000000000036 70001000000000000001 700113000000000000013 700172000000000000072.0
Jack Rowell 4 June 1994 – 12 July 1997 700129000000000000029 700121000000000000021 50000000000000000000 70008000000000000008 700172400000000000072.4
Sir Clive Woodward 15 November 1997 – 2 September 2004 700183000000000000083 700159000000000000059 70002000000000000002 700122000000000000022 700171100999990000071.1
Andy Robinson 15 October 2004 – 29 November 2006 700122000000000000022 70009000000000000009 50000000000000000000 700113000000000000013 700140900000000000040.9
Brian Ashton 20 December 2006 – 1 June 2008 700122000000000000022 700112000000000000012 50000000000000000000 700110000000000000010 700154500000000000054.5
Rob Andrew 1 June 2008 – 30 June 2008 70002000000000000002 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 70002000000000000002 &050000000000000000000.0
Martin Johnson 1 July 2008 – 16 November 2011 700138000000000000038 700121000000000000021 70001000000000000001 700116000000000000016 700155300000000000055.3
Stuart Lancaster 8 December 2011 – present 700117000000000000017 700110000000000000010 70001000000000000001 70006000000000000006 700158800000000000058.8


Preceded by
Brazil Men's Football Team
Laureus World Team of the Year
Succeeded by
Greece Men's National Football Team

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