Six Nations – Jack Clifford could earn call-up

Exciting young English star Jack Clifford is hoping to earn his first call-up to the senior squad for the 2016 RBS Six Nations, which begins on Saturday February 6th with England’s trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland.

The Harlequins back-row forward has been in tremendous form at the start of the 2015/16 season and his ability to play at 6, 7 and 8 could make him a valuable member of Eddie Jones’ first England squad.

He produced a barnstorming, all-action display in the 39-39 draw with Gloucester at Twickenham over the Christmas period and the 22-year-old will be hoping to return to the home of rugby during the Six Nations when England take on Ireland (Saturday 27th February) and Wales (Saturday 12th March).

Clifford has Six Nations aspirations

Clifford was born in Australia but moved to England at a young age and has risen through the age groups at both England and Quins. In 2013 he captained an exceptionally talented England side to the Junior Rugby World Championships, beating Wales in an epic final.

His versatility has been evident this season with starts across the back-row, all showcasing his potent combination of speed, power and breakdown nous. The breakdown has long been an issue for England and Jones will be desperate to cure this ahead of the 2016 Six Nations.

Clifford is clearly aware of the importance of the breakdown in the modern game saying in a recent interview, “The breakdown is a hugely important part of the game and, no matter what jersey you are wearing, it is about knowing when to compete and taking your opportunity.”

The ability to make turnovers from anywhere in the back-row will be a huge asset come the Six Nations and Jones could employ the same tactics used by Australia in the World Cup and play two opensides.

A back-row containing Matt Kvesic and Clifford would certainly make England a huge threat at the ruck.

But Clifford isn’t getting ahead of himself saying, “It is flattering to be linked with England and all players have aspirations,”

“I have not spoken to anyone about England but playing international rugby is an ambition and a number of the under-20 side in 2013 have gone on to win their full caps.”

But there can be no doubt an exciting new-era is on the horizon for English rugby.

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Six Nations – Paul Gustard joins England as defence coach

England Rugby have named Paul Gustard as their new defence coach, as Eddie Jones continues to build his backroom team ahead of the 2016 RBS Six Nations.

The Saracens defence mastermind will leave his role with the Premiership club in the New Year and will link up with Jones and Steve Borthwick, who was appointed forwards coach on Tuesday.

These appointments are likely to fill England fans with hope and optimism ahead of the 2016 Six Nations which begins when England travel to Scotland on Saturday 6th February.

Jones worked with Gustard during his time with Saracens as a consultant and gave him his first coaching role in 2008. Since the 39-year-old has overseen the transformation of the Saracens defence in recent years and is credited with creating the now famous ‘Wolfpack’ system.

Gustard marshalled the England defence on the 2013 tour to Argentina, while Andy Farrell in Australia with the British and Irish Lions. His work on that tour didn’t go unnoticed as England won the two game series in comprehensive fashion and he has long been earmarked as a future international coach.

Gustard to bring aggression to England defence in Six Nations

On the appointment of Gustard, Jones said: “An important part of England going forward is to make sure we keep the traditional and fundamental bits of English rugby in place and that has always been a strong set piece and a very aggressive defence.

“He has overseen Saracens growth as a team. He has produced an aggressive defence system there and we are hoping he can do the same for England.”

It is clear that Jones wants Gustard to bring that level of aggression in defence which has made Saracens so special, to England. While the reports of Dylan Hartley being made captain would certainly follow the line of thinking, which is to make an England hard edged team.

While Gustard himself added, “To be given the chance with England is hugely humbling and I am thrilled to be involved.

“This has been a difficult decision to make, but to coach England is an opportunity you just don’t turn down. I have enjoyed 10 wonderful years at Saracens, both as a player and as a coach.”

England face two crucial fixtures at Twickenham during the RBS Six Nations, first of they face defending champions Ireland (Saturday 27th February) before facing Wales (Saturday 12th March).

If you are interested in our Twickenham hospitality packages for the 2016 Six Nations, please click here.