England axe Danny Cipriani from World Cup training squad - how fans and media reacted
Gloucester star dropped ‘without a word of explanation’ from Eddie Jones
Danny Cipriani has been dumped from England’s Rugby World Cup training squad in a move that appears to end his chance of playing in September’s showpiece tournament.
According to The Times, the Gloucester fly-half, voted the Premiership’s player of the 2018-19 season, was axed “without receiving a word of explanation from Eddie Jones”.
Door is closing
England head coach Jones has never appeared to fully trust the 31-year-old Cipriani and by omitting him from the 12-day training trip to Treviso in Italy, it seems clear that the Aussie is planning for a World Cup without the mercurial talent.
“The World Cup door is closing for last season’s player of the year; if, indeed, it was ever ajar,” says the Times. “He was given a training plan to follow at his club for the next fortnight, but no further explanation for the decision.”
A lack of perceived fitness and a suspect defence have been cited by the predominantly pro-Cipriani press as the reasons why Jones has only called on the player twice in his four years in charge of England, both of which were on the tour to South Africa 13 months ago.
Instead Jones has put his faith in Owen Farrell and George Ford, despite the fact that the pair have their own shortcomings.
Farrell, in particular, suffered a spectacular meltdown against Scotland in last season’s Six Nations, and his temperament is sure to be tested by opponents in Japan.
According to the Times Jones doesn’t trust Cipriani as a squad player “because his personality is built around being ‘the main man’ and did not select him at all last season, despite his award-winning club form”.
Jones names England’s 31-man World Cup squad on 12 August, one day after the first of four warm-up games, and so Cipriani has scant opportunity to force his way into contention.
It is a mirror of the situation four years ago when the fly-half - who won the first of his 16 caps as a teenager in 2008 - was selected in England’s initial 50-man squad only to be dropped by coach Stuart Lancaster on the eve of the tournament.
Rise to the challenge
“Selection is absolutely challenging,” said Jones, in announcing the 38 names in his training squad. “We have left some good players doing work at their clubs and they must be ready if called up.
“Treviso is a hard-yards camp with conditions similar to Tokyo. Team training will be about being adaptable and off the field enjoying each other’s company.”
The other prominent omission from the squad is Exeter prop Ben Moon, who featured in last season’s Six Nations, but who has ceded his place to Joe Marler.
Harlequins prop Marler, 29, retired from international rugby last year, but he has been persuaded to change his mind and is now in line to appear in an England shirt for the first time since June 2018.
What they’re saying about Cipriani’s demotion
Former Wales and Lions wing Shane Williams: “I’m not surprised that he’s been left out because with Eddie Jones anything can happen. But Danny is such an exciting player who reminds me of Gavin Henson back in my day – he was capable of doing anything.”
The Daily Telegraph: “The writing appears to be on the wall for Cipriani, the most talented player of his generation yet to appear at a World Cup… Jones has never warmed to Cipriani, despite his sensational club form for Wasps and Gloucester.”
The Guardian: “His prospects of going to Japan in September appear no better than if he were lining up a penalty from halfway into a stiff wind.”
How fans reacted
England’s 38-man training squad
D Cole (Leicester), L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), T Curry (Sale), C Ewels (Bath), E Genge (Leicester), J George (Saracens), M Itoje (Saracens), G Kruis (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), L Ludlam (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), B Shields (Wasps), K Sinckler (Harlequins), J Singleton (Saracens), S Underhill (Bath), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), H Williams (Exeter), M Wilson (Newcastle/Sale)
M Brown (Harlequins), J Cokanasiga (Bath), E Daly (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Leicester), P Francis (Northampton), W Heinz (Gloucester), J Joseph (Bath), J Marchant (Harlequins), J May (Leicester), R McConnochie (Bath), J Nowell (Exeter), H Slade (Exeter), B Spencer (Saracens), B Te’o (unattached), M Tuilagi (Leicester), A Watson (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester)
England 2019 fixtures
2019 summer internationals (RWC warm-up matches)
- 11 August: England vs. Wales (2pm; Twickenham Stadium, London)
- 17 August: Wales vs. England (2.15pm; Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
- 24 August: England vs Ireland (3pm; Twickenham Stadium, London)
- 6 September: England vs. Italy (7.45pm; St James’ Park, Newcastle)
Rugby World Cup pool C: France, Argentina, England, Tonga, USA
- 21 September: France vs. Argentina (8.15am; Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
- 22 September: England vs. Tonga (11.15am; Sapporo Dome, Sapporo)
- 26 September: England vs. USA (11.45am; Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)
- 28 September: Argentina vs. Tonga (5.45am; Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)
- 2 October: France vs. USA (8.45am; Hakatanomori Football Stadium, Fukuoka)
- 5 October: England vs. Argentina (9am; Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
- 6 October: France vs. Tonga (8.45am; Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, Kumamoto)
- 9 October: Argentina vs. USA (5.45am; Prefectual Kumagaya Rugby Grounds, Kumagaya)
- 12 October: England vs. France (9.15am; International Stadium, Yokohama)
- 13 October: USA vs. Tonga (6.45am; Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)