Revival Unveiled: England Announces Comeback of 'A Team' and Discloses Date for Portugal Showdown

England A Returns: Portugal Showdown in Six Nations Unveiled

England's second-string team, known as England A, is set to make a comeback during next season's Six Nations, marking a significant move by head coach Steve Borthwick to enhance the depth of the first-choice squad. The fixture will see England A facing off against Portugal, whose remarkable performance in the recent Rugby World Cup has garnered attention.

Scheduled to take place at Leicester's Welford Road on Sunday, February 25, the clash with Portugal's Os Lobos comes just a day after Borthwick's side competes against Scotland at Murrayfield. England A, formerly recognized as the Saxons, was originally slated to play against a Scottish second-string team at the same venue in 2021, but the match was canceled due to a Covid outbreak in the Scotland camp.

The renewal of the England A side is met with anticipation, as Conor O'Shea, executive director of performance rugby for England's Rugby Football Union (RFU), expresses excitement about showcasing the talent of the country's emerging players. O'Shea acknowledges Portugal's recent success on the world stage, praising their attacking flair and passion. The upcoming clash is expected to be a compelling encounter between two teams with promising futures.

For Portugal, the fixture falls within a busy period as they compete in the second-tier Rugby Europe Championship in February and March. The nation's impressive World Cup performance, including a historic win against Fiji, has elevated their status, making them a fitting opponent for England A.

Head coach Steve Borthwick will carefully select the England A squad, offering opportunities for those transitioning from U20 level to the senior team and squad members not utilized in the preceding Calcutta Cup clash. While Portugal faced the Saxons in 2009, the upcoming fixture, scheduled for 2024, awaits approval from World Rugby, aligning with their plans for a revamped rugby calendar featuring a two-tier "Nations Championship." The anticipation builds for a renewed chapter in England A's journey, contributing to the evolving landscape of international rugby.

Rugby's Evolution: RFU Backs Overhaul Amidst Criticism and Support for Emerging Nations

As the rugby landscape undergoes a radical overhaul, the sport's governing body, often criticized for hindering the progress of emerging nations like Portugal, insists that the proposed changes will facilitate development and provide greater fixture certainty. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has thrown its weight behind the transformative restructuring of the men's international structure, countering concerns about obstructing the growth of nations eager to make their mark.

Bill Sweeney, CEO of the RFU, emphasized the global growth of the sport, citing the commendable performances of teams like Portugal and Chile in the recent World Cup. Addressing concerns from emerging nations, Sweeney highlighted the significance of fixture certainty, acknowledging that many nations have struggled to secure enough rugby matches since the last World Cup.

The proposed division one and division two structure aims to guarantee a set number of fixtures, offering assurance to emerging nations about their playing opportunities. Sweeney expressed optimism about the positive impact of these changes on the rugby landscape, particularly for nations looking to establish themselves on the international stage.

The spotlight on Portugal, whose captivating World Cup campaign captured hearts globally, serves as a testament to the potential unleashed by embracing transformative shifts in rugby's structure. As Steve Borthwick prepares to select the England A side for the upcoming clash against Portugal in February, the sport anticipates a future marked by increased inclusivity and opportunities for emerging talents.

In a dynamic phase of rugby's evolution, the RFU's endorsement of the overhaul reflects a commitment to fostering a more globally expansive and competitive sport. While debates surrounding the proposed changes continue, the push for certainty in fixtures and development opportunities for emerging nations signals a positive stride towards a more inclusive and robust international rugby community.

Embracing Change for Rugby's Global Growth

In the midst of a transformative period for international rugby, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) stands firm in its support for a radical overhaul, addressing both criticism and the aspirations of emerging nations like Portugal. While the sport's governing body has faced scrutiny, the envisioned division one and division two structure is championed as a mechanism to foster development and provide much-needed fixture certainty for nations aspiring to carve their niche on the international stage.

Bill Sweeney's acknowledgment of the captivating performances by teams such as Portugal and Chile during the World Cup reinforces the commitment to globalizing the sport. Fixture certainty emerges as a crucial aspect, with Sweeney noting the challenges faced by emerging nations in securing enough matches post-World Cup.

As the RFU backs the proposed changes, optimism surrounds the potential positive impact on rugby's landscape. The spotlight on Portugal, a team that captured hearts with their World Cup campaign, serves as a compelling illustration of the untapped potential awaiting acknowledgment and inclusion in the international rugby community.

Looking ahead to Steve Borthwick's selection of the England A side for the upcoming clash against Portugal, the sport appears poised for a future marked by inclusivity, increased opportunities for emerging talents, and a more globally expansive and competitive rugby community. While debates on the overhaul continue, the collective push for certainty in fixtures and a platform for development signifies a positive stride towards a dynamic and flourishing era for international rugby.