Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Dilemma over Catt Captaincy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Dilemma over Catt Captaincy

Article excerpt


BRIAN ASHTON will today attempt to solve the captaincy dilemma created by Mike Catt's inspirational performance in England's shock 26-18 Six Nations triumph over France.

Head coach Ashton went into yesterday's clash at Twickenham adamant that injured Phil Vickery was his captain to lead England in the rugby World Cup in the autumn.

But with Vickery ruled out of the France clash due to concussion, Ashton turned to Catt as a short-term solution, knowing the London Irish veteran could instigate the style of play he believes will allow the holders to mount a creditable defence of their World Cup crown.

Catt's influence, and 16 points from Toby Flood, ensured England erased the memory of that dreadful 43-13 loss to Ireland and they go into Saturday's final match against Wales at Cardiff with a slim chance of winning the Six Nations title.

Ashton said: "I'm going to let the dust settle and then think about who we may have to call up because Flood has a dead leg.

"We saw glimpses in this match of the rugby we need to play and if we do that consistently, then we will get ourselves up to the first division of world rugby." Vickery will be fit to return to action but Ashton may find it impossible to change an England pack which eclipsed the much-vaunted French forwards and laid the foundations for a win that featured tries from new boy Flood and centre Mike Tindall.

Catt created the first score and young Shane Geraghty, his London Irish teammate, brilliantly cut through the French to set up Tindall's try.

Given the dramatic change of fortunes, Ashton should, injuries permitting, name the same XV to face Wales, with Catt as captain and Vickery back among the replacements.

But fly-half Flood's knee is causing concern and Ashton cannot afford to take any risks.

The head coach added: "We have to back up this performance. …

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