Ben Youngs and Dan Cole will both head to their third Rugby World Cup as part of a six-strong Leicester Tigers contingent in the England squad announced today.
Scrum-half Youngs and prop Cole are the most-capped players in a 31-man squad revealed by head coach Eddie Jones and are joined by Tigers team-mates Ellis Genge, George Ford, Jonny May and Manu Tuilagi.
Cole and Youngs both won their 86th cap in Sunday’s win over Wales at Twickenham in the opening warm-up fixture.
The squad of 31 players – captained by Owen Farrell – has more than 1,000 caps with 17 players having appeared in at least one previous Rugby World Cup.
Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie is the only uncapped player included following an impressive first season in the Gallagher Premiership since leaving the Sevens set-up.
Lewis Ludlam, Jack Singleton and Willi Heinz, who all won their first caps in the 33-19 win over Wales on Sunday, are also included.
Head coach Jones said: “We have taken the decision to go early because of what we learned from previous campaigns. We want the squad to know early and now we can get on and be the best prepared England side there has ever been, ready to win the World Cup.”
England have three more matches, against Wales (August 17), Ireland (August 24) and Italy (September 6), before the tournament starts in Japan. Pool-stage fixtures are against Tonga in Sapporo (September 22), USA (September 26), Argentina (October 5) and France (October 12).
To mark the squad announcement, a video has been released to celebrate the players’ journey from community club and school rugby to their selection in England’s Rugby World Cup squad. Watch the video here.
“The base of our game has always been the grassroots clubs,” said Jones. “Your first club and your first coach is such an important experience for you. It dictates how you approach the game and the spirit and the values you play with.”
He added: “To all the people that have helped the players get here, we have the greatest amount of thanks for all of you.”
England’s Rugby World Cup squad
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps) **
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 11 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps) *
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps)
George Kruis (Saracens, 32 caps) *
Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 59 caps) *
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 72 caps) **
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 58 caps) *
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps)
Jack Singleton (Saracens, 1 cap)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 9 caps)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 42 caps) *
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53 caps) *
Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons / Sale Sharks, 13 caps)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)
Elliot Daly (Saracens, 31 caps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps) *
George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 56 caps) *
Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 41 caps) *
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps) *
Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps) *
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps) *
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps) *
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 34 caps) *
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps) **
*Number of Rugby World Cup tournaments played