- Ask Steven
No squad rotation for a whole championshipJohn GriffithsMarch 17, 2014
Have England ever survived unchanged for a complete Five/Six Nations season? Martin Smith, England
Three England sides were unchanged for an entire Five Nations season.
In 1960, Larry Webb (prop) and Bev Risman (stand-off) were late withdrawals for the opening match of the season against Wales, Ron Jacobs and Richard Sharp (famously on debut) replacing them.
England lined out (with seven new caps*) as follows: Don Rutherford*; John Young, Malcolm Phillips, Mike Weston*, Jim Roberts*; Richard Sharp*, Dickie Jeeps (captain); Ron Jacobs, Stan Hodgson*, Peter Wright*, John Currie, David Marques, Ron Syrett, Derek Morgan* and Peter Robbins and beat Wales 14-6.
That same fifteen beat Ireland 8-5, drew 3-3 in Paris with France and took the Triple Crown with a 21-12 win at Murrayfield. The unchanged side shared the Five Nations title with France, who were also unbeaten.
England's first Grand Slam season with Geoff Cooke as manager and Will Carling as captain was in 1991 when the fifteen was unchanged for wins against Wales (25-6), Scotland (21-12), Ireland (16-7) and France (21-19). That team comprised: Simon Hodgkinson; Nigel Heslop, Jerry Guscott, Will Carling (captain), Rory Underwood; Rob Andrew, Richard Hill; Jason Leonard, Brian Moore, Jeff Probyn, Paul Ackford, Wade Dooley, Mike Teague, Dean Richards and Peter Winterbottom.
In their first Five Nations under Jack Rowell, in 1995, they again won the Grand Slam with continuity in selection for all four games: Mike Catt; Tony Underwood, Jerry Guscott, Will Carling (captain), Rory Underwood; Rob Andrew, Kyran Bracken; Jason Leonard, Brian Moore, Victor Ubogu, Martin Johnson, Martin Bayfield, Tim Rodber, Dean Richards and Ben Clarke.
They beat Ireland 20-8, France 31-10, Wales 23-9 and Scotland 24-12. None of the side was a new cap, though Graham Rowntree came on to make his England debut as a temporary replacement for Jason Leonard against Scotland, a match in which Steve Ojomoh and Dewi Morris also made cameo appearances off the bench.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.