Steve Borthwick’s starting XV defeated by Scotland

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith – Andrew Boyers/Action Images

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith both started in England’s opening Six Nations game against Scotland, but once again the much-discussed pivot failed to work as the hosts lost back-to-back games at Twickenham against the Scots for the first time in history.

In his first game in charge, Steve Borthwick opted to make the changes up the back row, with Lewis Ludlam, Ben Curry and Alex Dombrant rounding out a new group of forwards that also featured Leicester second row Ollie Chessum.

Ludlum shone – his industriousness in the park gave England a good attacking platform they were unable to capitalise on, but Curry, making his first England appearance since 2021, struggled to replicate his excellent club form which earned him his starting job . If anyone is vulnerable to being dropped, he’s the seller.

The return of Max Malins on the wing was a bright spot in a losing day for the hosts, as the Saracens’ speedster scored twice, one coming from a cross from Smith.

Who is in England’s Six Nations squad?


Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, five caps)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 95 caps)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, a cap)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, nine caps)
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby, three matches)
Ben Earl (Saracens, 13 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 43 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 72 caps)
Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, eight caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 62 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 14 games)
David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, three games)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 56 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 74 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, capless)


Owen Farrell (Saracens, 101 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, three caps)
Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish, uncapped)
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, seven caps)
Max Malins (Saracens, 14 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 13 caps)
Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, no cover)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 17 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 17 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 50 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, seven caps)
Anthony Watson (Leicester Tigers, 51 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 121 caps)

Who has been lost?

The main omissions from Borthwick’s team are Jack Nowell, Jonny May and Billy Vunipola, who all played huge roles during Eddie Jones’ tenure.

Their respective non-selection offers the clearest indication yet of the new regime’s departure from the old, as Borthwick looks for fresh talent who have shown top-level form for their clubs.

Other notable names to be left out include Alex Coles, Hugh Tizzard, Val Rapava Ruskin, Joe Cokanasiga and George Furbank.

Who’s hurt?

As always, Borthwick has been forced to drop certain names due to injuries.

Potential starters such as wing Tom Curry and Luke Cowan-Dickie are injured, with the latter out of the tournament.

Courtney Lawes continues to manage his rehabilitation alongside the team and Henry Slade does the same. Both will miss the first round against Scotland.

Hooker is a problematic position for Borthwick with George McGuigan and Jack Singleton joining Cowan-Dickie on the disabled list. Right prop Will Stuart is also unavailable.

George Ford has yet to play for his new team, Sale, but is expected to return to action soon, while in more positive news, London’s Irish midfielder Henry Arundell and Sale’s scrum-half Raffi Quirke they have already done it.

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