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Analysis: If ‘North’ England played ‘South’ England, Who Would Win?

Is there a North/South divide in English rugby? We split the Premiership clubs’ England-qualified player bases into two geographical halves to take a look at what English ‘North’ and ‘South’ teams might look like, with some interesting results.

Please note that Midlands clubs have been divided up into either side depending on their geographical proximity to what are commonly known as ‘The North’ and ‘The South’.

North: Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks, Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers, Wasps, Worcester Warriors

Props: Alex Rogers, Sam Lockwood, Ellis Genge, Alex Waller, Matt Mullan, Simon McIntyre, Dan Cole, Jake Cooper-Woolley, Kieran Brookes, Paul Hill, Ross Harrison

Hookers: Tommy Taylor, Greg Bateman, Dylan Hartley, Tom Youngs, George McGuigan, Ben Sowrey, Mike Haywood, Neil Briggs, Cameron Neild

Locks: Ed Slater, Calum Green, James Gaskell, Courtney Lawes, Christian Day, Joe Launchbury, Matt Symons, Michael Paterson, Graham Kitchener, Mike Williams, Will Witty, Sean Robinson, Darren Barry,

Flankers: James Haskell, Sam Jones, Brendan O’Connor, Will Welch, Tom Wood, Teimana Harrison, Jamie Gibson, David Seymour, Laurence Pearce, Callum Clark

Number Eights: Nathan Hughes, Josh Beaumont, Sam Dickinson, Phil Dowson, Mark Wilson

Scrum Halves: Dan Robson, Joe Simpson, Lee Dickson, Micky Young, Sam Harrison, Ben Youngs, James Mitchell, Jonny Arr,

Fly Halves: Danny Cipriani, Ryan Lamb, Freddie Burns, Stephen Myler, Joel Hodgson, Harry Mallinder, Dan Mugford

Centres: Matt Smith, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Te’o, Luther Burrell, Elliot Daly, Chris Harris, Dom Waldouck, Sam James

Wings: Christian Wade, Josh Bassett, Jamie Elliott, Adam Thompstone, Will Addison, Nev Edwards

Fullbacks: Rob Miler, Mat Tait, Ben Foden, Mike Haley

The North

1) Matt Mullan
2) Dylan Hartley
3) Dan Cole
4) Joe Launchbury
5) Courtney Lawes
6) James Haskell
7) Teimana Harrison
8) Nathan Hughes

9) Ben Youngs
10) Danny Cipriani
11) Adam Thompstone
12) Manu Tuilagi
13) Elliot Daly
14) Christian Wade
15) Mike Haley

What is particularly noticeable about the North side is the strength of the pack. Every member of the forwards is in the current EPS squad and either in the first 23 or on the fringes of it. England’s tighthead depth is also all from this squad, whereas down in the South tightheads are looking somewhat threadbare.

Although the North side includes an exciting centre partnership and 9/10 axis, the depth at wing with these clubs is not so promising, with many clubs relying on foreign talent to provide their back three.

South: Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Harlequins, Saracens, Exeter Chiefs

Props: Joe Marler, Nick Auterac, Tom Dunn, Beno Obano, Max Lahiff, Nathan Catt, David Wilson, Henry Thomas, Kyle Sinckler, Will Collier, Mako Vunipola, Richard Barrington, Ben Moon, Alec Hepburn, Paul Doran-Jones

Hookers: Ross Batty, Jack Walker, Chris Brooker, Rob Buchanan, Dave Ward, Jamie George, Scott Spurling, Jack Yeandle, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Darren Dawidiuk

Locks: Dave Attwood, Charlie Ewels, Elliott Stooke, Ben Glynn, Sam Twomey, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Geoff Parling, Damien Welch, Mitch Lees, Tom Savage

Flankers: David Sisi, Guy Mercer, Levi Douglas, Matt Garvey, James Phillips, Chris Robshaw, Luke Wallace, Jack Clifford, Will Fraser, Don Armand, Matt Kvesic, Jacob Rowan

Number Eights: Zach Mercer, Jordan Crane, James Chisholm, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola, Thomas Waldrom, Ben Morgan

Scrum Halves: Chris Cook, Will Cliff, Danny Care, Ben Spencer, Will Chudley, Dave Lewis

Fly Halves: George Ford, Adrian Jarvis, Owen Farrell, Henry Slade, Billy Burns

Wings: Semesa Rokoduguni, Matt Banahan, Jeff Williams, Ryan Edwards, Tom Varndell, Marland Yarde, Chris Ashton, Mike Ellery, Jack Nowell, Olly Woodburn, Charlie Sharples, Henry Purdy, Jonny May, Anthony Watson

Centres: Jonathan Joseph, Will Hurrell, Ben Mosses, Joe Marchant, Brad Barritt, Ollie Devoto, Sam Hill, Mark Atkinson

Fullbacks: Tom Homer, Jack Wallace, Ross Chisholm, Mike Brown, Max Bodilly, Alex Goode

The South

1) Mako Vunipola
2) Jamie George
3) Kyle Sinckler
4) Maro Itoje
5) George Kruis
6) Chris Robshaw
7) Jack Clifford
8) Billy Vunipola

9) Danny Care
10) George Ford
11) Anthony Watson
12) Owen Farrell
13) Jonathan Joseph
14) Jack Nowell
15) Mike Brown

With Saracens dominating the current England line-up, it is no surprise to see so many of their players in this team, with the Red Rose’s second row partnership and several of its first 23 back row options featuring here. The entire first-choice England back division, with the exception of Danny Care, is here as well.

However, southern clubs are currently not producing many young English tightheads and rely on players from other shores to shore up their set piece.

So, who would win a game featuring these two teams? You decide. It’d be a hell of a match either way.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.