World Rugby

Winners And Losers From England's Rugby World Cup Squad Announcement

Winners And Losers From England's Rugby World Cup Squad Announcement

England Rugby coach Steve Borthwick announced the squad that will feature at the Rugby World Cup 2023, and the squad includes several notable storylines.

Aug 7, 2023
Winners And Losers From England's Rugby World Cup Squad Announcement

Steve Borthwick announced his England squad for the upcoming World Cup, giving punters plenty to digest ahead of a busy autumn of rugby.

There are, of course, some surprise inclusions and omissions on the 33-man team, which has been revealed much earlier than most other teams in the tournament.

Owen Farrell still is the designated captain and will be flanked by Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes as vice-captains.

As the dust settles on the news, we take a look at the winners and losers of Borthwick’s big announcement.


Ben Earl

No player has had a harder time breaking into the England squad than Ben Earl. 

The Saracens flanker has been a star performer in the Premiership for two years and won the Player of the Season accolade in 2022 for his efforts.

Despite all that, Earl failed to conclusively bed into Eddie Jones’ England team and remained a fringe player.

With the arrival of Steve Borthwick, the backrower still struggled to make the cut and didn’t feature in a single Six Nations game earlier this year.

Anyone following Saracens knows the value Earl brings. He’s an energetic livewire who is a master at disrupting the opposition ball.

He’s now made it back into the England squad, where spots in the back row are very much up for grabs. This could be the time when the 15-cap international makes his mark.

Theo Dan

Theo Dan is the least experienced player picked for the trip to France in September, having gained his maiden England cap in the grueling loss to Wales last weekend.

The meteoric rise of the young hooker has seen him fast become the heir apparent to Jamie George.

There’s a lot to like about the way Dan plays his rugby. Not only is he a powerful presence at scrum time, but he’s also incredibly dynamic and singles himself out as one of the fittest and most versatile hookers in the game.

His performance in the Premiership final was a perfect example of this, as the hooker carried brilliantly, hit hard in defense and even nailed a 50/22.

This is an exciting addition to the England setup and definitely one to keep an eye on.

Joe Marchant

It’s difficult to get picked internationally when all the rivals in your position are above you in the pecking order.

That’s the situation Joe Marchant has faced over the past month, as Manu Tuilagi, Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade all felt like shoe-ins to the World Cup squad ahead of him.

And yet, Slade has been dropped in favor of Marchant.

In the buildup to England’s first warm-up match against Wales, Borthwick admitted there were still spots up for grabs, but following a dire 80 minutes for the visitors, few would have played their way onto the team.

That is, except for Marchant, who was one of the shining lights wearing white. That performance may have earnt him a trip across the channel.


Henry Slade

This one was the banker. 

Few pundits would have been able to foresee Slade’s omission from Borthwick’s squad - the Exeter Chiefs star has been a mainstay for the national team for years and provides playmaking ability in the midfield, which few others can match.

Marchant is the like-for-like replacement but feels like a bigger gamble, lacking the big-game experience of Slade, both at the international level and at the club level in Europe.

There was little indication that this decision was on the horizon, other than the fact that Marchant was picked ahead of Slade last weekend for Wales.

Despite the disappointment facing Slade, he will be aware that any injury in the centers will lead to his re-introduction to the squad.

Alex Dombrandt

Picking the England back row has been one of the big talking points of the summer. When Zach Mercer was dropped, it looks as though Alex Dombrandt was nailed on as the starting No. 8.

After all, he’d been a consistent feature for the team during the Six Nations.

That being said, the performances he put in left a lot to be desired and had some England fans despairing, as the Harlequins man struggled to take charge of the physical battle up front and botched a few too many catches.

What will frustrate Dombrandt, though, is how close he came to making the cut. Billy Vunipola is the only out-and-out No. 8 picked in the 33, which makes it an even tougher pill to swallow for the back-rower.

Cadan Murley

Another Harlequins player who will feel gutted by the latest England news is Cadan Murley, and it’s fair to say he should be.

He was the leading try scorer in the Premiership last season and brought a little box office every time he took to the field, balancing power in the tackle with world-class finishing abilities.

Amazingly he’s still searching for his first England cap after making training squads on numerous occasions.

He initially was dropped by Borthwick a few weeks ago, only to be brought back into the squad, before being dropped once more.

It all feels a little unsavory and unworthy of a man who’s only delivered on the field.