England DROP captain Owen Farrell and replace him with Marcus Smith for their Six Nations showdown with France… as coach Steve Borthwick makes shock call for the must-win match at Twickenham

  • England will host France in a must-win Six Nations match at Twickenham
  • Steve Borthwick makes the shock decision to drop captain Owen Farrell
  • Marcus Smith replaces Farrell, and Ellis Genge will captain the side vs France

Marcus Smith has been handed the No 10 jersey for England’s Test against France after captain Owen Farrell was dropped for the first time in eight years.

Steve Borthwick has selected Smith as fly-half for the Twickenham showdown, with Farrell reduced to a role on the bench.

Ellis Genge has taken over as skipper – with Borthwick urging the prop to ‘lead from the front’ as he captains his country for the first time.

‘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,’ said Borthwick.

‘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.

Owen Farrell has been dropped for England’s Six Nations match with France on Saturday

Marcus Smith gets the nod over Farrell after impressing for Harlequins last weekend

Borthwick made the huge call despite naming Farrell as his captain ahead of the Six Nations

‘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.’

Smith is the only change to the starting XV that beat Wales in Cardiff, where he was limited to just 14 seconds off the bench.

The 24-year-old prodigy was released to Harlequins last week but forced his way back into the reckoning with a man-of-the-match display against Exeter.

He has been backed to slot into the team’s structure, forming a midfield combination with Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade for the first time.

Borthwick added: ‘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 have 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.’



15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 20 caps)

14. Max Malins (Saracens, 17 caps)

13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 54 caps)

12. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)

11. Anthony Watson (Leicester Tigers, 53 caps)

10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 20 caps)

9. Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps)

1. Ellis Genge (C) (Bristol Bears, 46 caps)

2. Jamie George (Saracens, 75 caps)

3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 59 caps)

4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 65 caps)

5. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 8 caps)

6. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 17 caps)

7. Jack Willis (Toulouse, 8 caps)

8. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 12 caps)


16. Jack Walker (Harlequins, 2 caps)

17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 77 caps)

18. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 98 caps)

19. David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)

20. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, 3 caps)

21. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)

22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 104 caps)

23. Henry Arundell (London Irish, 5 caps)

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