Monday, 31 August 2015

Time closes in on Lancaster to make final cut

It is officially less than a month until England hosts one of the biggest and hotly anticipated events in the sporting calendar; the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Set to be nothing short of spectacular, the World Cup has already drawn an international audience whose eager attention has inevitably shifted towards the drama of squad selection. So, which players have done enough to secure their spot in England's line up, and who has narrowly missed out on wearing the red rose?

It's safe to say that head coach Stuart Lancaster has faced his fair share of headaches regarding world cup selection over the past few months, and with the big event mere weeks away these are surely set to intensify. Sensational displays of talent over the course of the premiership season led to the selection of an initial 50-man squad which embarked upon rigorous training and preparation. With each player vying for inclusion in Lancaster's final 31, intensity reached an all-time high within the England camp; who could hold their hand up the highest?

As Lancaster and his coaching team assured both fans and players, training was not the only factor to be considered in squad decisions. The international warm-up matches were also pivotal in the selection process, and with England pitted against longstanding rivals France there was everything to prove. During both matches new players appeared eager to make their mark upon an already esteemed England team while experienced heads proved right Lancaster's faith in them over past seasons. Similarly, an unavoidable consequence of this cut-throat competition led to underwhelming performances from some and concerning errors made by others. 

Public opinion has become increasingly divided over the possible selection choices faced by Lancaster and his coaching team. While stalwart and well-known England caps such as the likes of Brad Barritt and Chris Robshaw have been deemed by fans as integral to England's success, many have called for fresh blood in the form of new recruits, with both Sam Burgess and Henry Slade central to discussions featured on various social media sites.

So, D-Day has finally arrived and time has come for Lancaster and his team to make up their minds. Who has booked their ticket to possible World Cup glory, and who has narrowly missed the boat?