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Owen Farrell dropped for France

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Owen Farrell has been dropped from the England starting line-up for the first time since 2015.


Flyhalf Marcus Smith is preferred by coach Steve Borthwick to face France at Twickenham on Saturday.

The team will be captained for the first time by Ellis Genge, as Farrell moves to the bench.

He will be joined in the front row by prop Kyle Sinckler and hooker Jamie George.

In an unchanged forward pack from England’s 20-10 win over Wales in Cardiff in the last round of the tournament, Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum are at lock.

Flankers Jack Willis and Lewis Ludlam, along with Alex Dombrandt at number eight, complete the pack.

Marcus Smith starts at flyhalf and Jack van Poortvliet is at scrumhalf.


Ollie Lawrence is at inside centre, Henry Slade stays at outside centre.

Anthony Watson is on the left wing, Max Malins is on the right wing and Freddie Steward is full back.

Owen Farrell and David Ribbans are named as replacements, alongside Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell and Henry Arundell.

Borthwick said: “We look forward to welcoming a strong France team to Twickenham this weekend in what will undoubtedly be another exciting encounter in this year’s Six Nations competition.


“Over the last three years France has built a formidable side and with just three games behind us, this England team has an excellent opportunity to test itself against one of the very best teams in the world, as we progress and build on the foundations we have put in place in the short time we have been together.

“The players selected to face our visitors are again a reflection of what I see to be the right balance of personnel for the challenge we face in this game. Marcus Smith starts at flyhalf and Dave Ribbans returns to the matchday 23.

“Congratulations to Ellis Genge who will captain the side for the first time. Ellis will lead from the front with the sort of dedication and spirit that now rightly typifies this England team.

“I know that a sold-out Twickenham will be in full voice, and that our magnificent supporters will make Saturday a very special occasion with a brilliant atmosphere.”

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13. Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Henry Arundell.

Date: Saturday, March 11
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 16.45 (17.45 French time; 16.45 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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