Rugby World Cup 2015: The England Premiership 'hangover'

England captain Chris Robshaw looks back in anger
Chris Robshaw looks back in anger as England's World Cup hopes faded away against Wales

The full realisation of England's Rugby World Cup failure kicks in this weekend with the return of the Premiership.

While the other home nations, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, all contest World Cup quarter-finals - two of which are at Twickenham - England's players have the opportunity to return to play for their clubs.

But just how big "an emotional hangover", as Worcester boss Dean Ryan puts it, will there be for England's players?

As they await the outcome of the internal inquiry as to just what went wrong, there are still more than three months to go before they are scheduled to represent their country again against Scotland at Murrayfield when the Six Nations kicks off on 6 February.

Yet, of the 32 players picked for World Cup duty by Stuart Lancaster (the initial 31-man squad plus Nick Easter, who replaced the injured Billy Vunipola), almost half will not be involved this weekend. Only five will start club games, while a further 10 will be on bench duty and two are injured.

England's starters

Kieran Brookes starts for Northampton against Worcester at Sixways on Friday, while Alex Goode and Jamie George are in the Saracens starting XV at home to Sale on Saturday.

"Our England players have been superb throughout training this week," said Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall. "They've brought some real enthusiasm and energy to the group and it will be great to have them back out there this weekend."

Also on Saturday, George Ford and Anthony Watson have both been picked for Bath against Exeter at The Rec. The West Country derby could have involved the largest number of England players - nine - with Bath having six and Exeter three in Stuart Lancaster's squad. However, only five will be involved.

The non-starters

Billy Vunipola
Billy Vunipola was replaced by Nick Easter after injury forced him out of the World Cup

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care (back spasm) and Saracens forward Billy Vunipola, who was expected to be out for six weeks when his World Cup ended with a knee ligament strain in the defeat by Wales on 27 September, are the only two reported injuries from England's initial 31-man squad.

Fifteen others will sit out the Premiership's opening weekend and one of the six matches - London Irish v Leicester on Sunday - with no England involvement at all.

Wasps captain James Haskell and lock Joe Launchbury made themselves available for selection to play at Harlequins, but have been given an extra break.

"They put their hands up to play and we appreciate their commitment," said boss Dai Young. "But for me it is important to give them a week to rest and re-charge, mentally as much as physically."

Worcester Warriors director of rugby Ryan, one of four Premiership bosses who will not be affected by any England hangover, is sympathetic but also envious.

"We just wish we could have the luxury of it," said the former England forward. "For those clubs who are managing those internationals, it will be case by case.

"Some who have an emotional hangover may need a little break. But the competitive player, when he gets a disappointment, normally the first place he wants to look is how to go and solve it by playing it again. It's a case of balancing those emotions."

Where England's players will feature


Harlequins v Wasps

Quins (5): Joe Marler, Nick Easter and Mike Brown are all on the bench at The Stoop. Only Danny Care (back spasm) and England captain Chris Robshaw are not involved.

Wasps (2): James Haskell and Joe Launchbury were not selected.

Worcester v Northampton

Worcester: No England players in squad.

Northampton (3): Prop Kieran Brookes starts, but Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood are not involved.

Newcastle v Gloucester

Newcastle: No England players in squad.

Gloucester (2): Ben Morgan and Jonny May are both on the bench at Kingston Park.


Bath v Exeter

Bath (6): George Ford and Anthony Watson both start, while Sam Burgess and Rob Webber are on the bench. David Wilson and Jonathan Joseph are not involved.

Exeter (3): Henry Slade is on the bench, but Geoff Parling and Jack Nowell are not involved.

Saracens v Sale

Saracens (8): Full-back Alex Goode and hooker Jamie George start, while Mako Vunipola and George Kruis are on the bench. Billy Vunipola (knee) is injured. Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt are the other three England players not in the squad.

Sale: No England players in squad.


London Irish v Leicester

London Irish: No England players in squad.

Leicester (3): None of the Tigers' three England players - Dan Cole, Tom Youngs and Ben Youngs have been selected.

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