2022 Prospects: Promising England look to rebound

After a fifth-place finish a year ago, England hope to bounce straight back into Guinness Six Nations contention this spring.

After a fifth-place finish a year ago, England hope to bounce straight back into Guinness Six Nations contention this spring.

A promising Autumn Nations Series campaign, where they went unbeaten and secured victories against southern hemisphere giants Australia and South Africa, has reinvigorated Eddie Jones’ side and they arrive for the 2022 Championship as one of the early favourites.

Jones has blooded several new players, including the likes of fly-half Marcus Smith, full-back Freddie Steward and hooker Jamie Blamire, while his 36-man squad for this Championship features three uncapped players in back row Alfie Barbeary, fly-half Orlando Bailey and winger Ollie Hassell-Collins.

Jones has plenty to think about before England head north for the Calcutta Cup in Round 1, especially who will captain the team in the absence of Owen Farrell, who is expected to miss the game after picking up an injury with club side Saracens.

The trip to Scotland will be a pivotal match for England, as they try to wrestle back the Calcutta Cup following last year’s surprise home defeat.

England have beaten Scotland in just one of their last four Championship matches but have won on two of their three trips to BT Murrayfield under Jones, including his first game as head coach in 2016. A 15-9 win set them on the way to the Grand Slam that year and Jones will be hoping for a repeat.

2022 Guinness Six Nations fixtures.

After they leave Edinburgh, England are back on the road again, this time in Rome to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.

England have never lost to the Azzurri and are the only team in the Championship with a 100 per cent winning record against them. But they will have to be on their guard, with this match marking Kieran Crowley’s first at home as Italy head coach.

The first rest week follows before England return to Twickenham on the last weekend of February to face Ireland in Round 3.

The Men in Green beat England in Round 5 a year ago and will be confident of a repeat result after a superb Autumn Nations Series.

The first weekend of March brings the second rest week, before England host Wales at Twickenham in Round 4 – and if all goes well they will be playing for the Triple Crown.

Wales are the defending champions and beat England in Cardiff a year ago, their 40-24 triumph wrapping up the Triple Crown and sparking their charge to the title.

Wales have not won at Twickenham in the Championship for a decade but did go close two years ago, where they went down 33-30, and another close one can be expected.

Finally, another rival awaits England on Super Saturday, as they head across the Channel to face France in the final match of the Championship.

Les Bleus will hope it’s the setting for their first Guinness Six Nations title in 12 years, while England will hope for a repeat of 2016 – when they won the Grand Slam at the Stade de France.

That was the last time the away team won this fixture and another tight battle is almost assured, making it the perfect game to conclude the Championship.