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The Surprisingly Challenging Least Hated England XV

The Surprisingly Challenging Least Hated England XV
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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A year out from the Rugby World Cup on their home soil, the English media is already going into overdrive proclaiming them as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's no real surprise that the average Irish rugby fan isn't hugely fond of our brethren across the Irish sea, with some of them in particular held up as the definition of what we find most annoying about English Rugby.

There is a curious thing happening with English rugby at the moment. Under head coach Stuart Lancaster, England are becoming, dare I say it, easier to like which leads us to the question - What is the least hated England XV from an Irish Rugby fan's point of view?


Head coach: Stuart Lancaster

15. Ben Foden 


In my mind, Ben Foden is the best option that England have at fullback, and yet, he isn't selected. To me, that means he gets some respect already. The way he cut apart Leinster in the first half of Heineken Cup final in 2011 was astonishing, and he would be one of the players I'd fear should he line up against the men in green. Bonus respect points for his ability to bag a wife like that.

14. Mark Cueto

It's easy to have a list of English wingers who wouldn't make this list, but filling it is quite a different story. Mark Cueto is one of those players who made the most of his career. A smart Teddy Sheringham type player who maximised the most of his talent to have a good career. He was a very humble player and thus not much attention was ever on him, leading to him making this list.


13. James Simpson Daniel

Double barreled surname aside, James Simpson Daniel gets in for two reasons. One - all other outside centres for England illicit some sort of rage when mentioned to an Irish fan. Two - for a country renowned for it's bosh-first approach, Simpson Daniel had a bit of magic about him. How he only managed 10 caps for England in 7 years is beyond me.

12. Billy Twelvetrees

When your nickname, given by an Irishman in Geordan Murphy is something like 36 - "Twelve-threes", geddit? - it's hard to not laugh. Billy has kept himself out of annoying us with headlines or over the top cockiness, coupled with his disarming nickname, he was a no brainer.


11. David Duckham

A name few of you would remember. Duckham was one of England's best player during one of their shittest eras, the 1970s and is included for one very good reason.

In 1974, he scored an extremely controversial try for England against Wales at Twickenham, which denied the Welsh another title and handed the championship to you know who. The try was awarded by Irish ref John West and directly profited Ireland. Max Boyce was inspired to write a ditty about a 'Blind Irish Referee' on the back of it.

It was Ireland's first championship win since 1951. Read more about Ireland's forgotten 1974 Five Nations triumph here. Includes an interview with John West himself.


10. Jonny Wilkinson


For someone as accomplished as him, Wilkinson comes across as extremely humble. I want to not like him, but his personality and determination shines through and I just can't help but respect Wilkinson and his perfectionism.

9. Andy Gomarsall

With candidates like Danny Care, Austin Healey and Matt Dawson, scrumhalf was a shallow pool of contenders. Ben Youngs came close after this wonderful parody twitter account paints him in a different picture, but there is something about him. Andy Gomarsall was a bit of a nomad, playing for 7 different English clubs, winning 35 English caps.

1. Joe Marler

Part of me doesn't like Joe Marler, and the other part finds his comments quite funny. He gets in here solely on his questioning of Andrew Small's footwear in spite of his haircuts through the years.

2. A.N. Other

We wanted to find a likeable English hooker to fill the space between the props, but there just are none, so we won't be picking a hooker.

3. Dan Cole

If Dan Cole wasn't injured, he might have a chance to be the consensus best tighthead in the world. A powerful scrummager, and very good at the breakdown, there's something to be admired about him, especially when he doesn't carry on in the manner of one Phil Vickery.


4. Geoff Parling


English rugby's answer to Gordon D'Arcy's beard. Need I say more?

5. Joe Launchbury

The baby face to compliment the manly beard in the second row, Launchbury is another that quietly goes about his business  as opposed to previous English lock's that come to mind.

6. Magnus Lund


What a magnificent head/face of hair. England/Norway's answer to Sebastian Chabal's caveman, who was also widely worshipped solely for his manly hair.

7. Steffon Armitage

If there's one thing Irish people like, it's an English player rejecting the chance to play for England. Which is exactly what the more likable Armitage did when first moving to France, and then extending his contract. He's becoming a thorn in the Irish provinces side, but he's very very good, and deserves respect. He also doesn't do the things that make us hate his brother.

8. Billy Vunipola

The other contender's for this list were Lawrence Dallaglio and Martin Corry. Who would you choose? The lack of cockiness and arrogance or sneaky play from Vunipola gets him in. The distinct lack of Englishness in his upbringing might have something to do with that.


Read also: Ireland's Forgotten Five Nations Triumph Of 1974

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