England omitted Leicester fly-half Toby Flood from its 35-man Six Nations rugby squad because of his expected move to Toulouse, and named Bath’s George Ford as his replacement.
Flood, 28, will move to the top-tier French club at the end of the season, according to ESPN. That puts him out of international contention as England’s Rugby Football Union says it won’t select players who represent overseas teams.
“I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester,” Stuart Lancaster, the England coach, said in an RFU statement yesterday. “He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that, but given the RFU’s policy of not selecting players based overseas, save for exceptional circumstances, it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.”
Ford, 20, was the International Rugby Board’s choice as young player of the year in 2011. The annual round-robin tournament between England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy begins Feb. 1.
Australia captain Ben Mowen yesterday said he’s also leaving international rugby to play in France, ruling him out of next year’s World Cup.
“I would have loved my career to have lined up to help Australia win the next Rugby World Cup, but my priority at this stage in my life is my family,” Mowen, 29, said in a statement on the Australian Rugby website.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said in the statement that even though Mowen’s move makes him ineligible for national selection in 2015, “the door will remain open for him if he wants to return to Australia.”
England Squad Forwards: David Attwood (Bath), Dan Cole (Leicester), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Tom Johnson (Exeter), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt.), Ed Slater (Leicester), Henry Thomas (Sale), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Rob Webber (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton), Tom Youngs (Leicester). Backs: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Stephen Myler (Northampton), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Anthony Watson (Bath), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens). England’s match schedule: Feb. 1: France (away) Feb. 8: Scotland (away) Feb. 22: Ireland (home) March 9: Wales (home) March 15: Italy (away)