Gloucester fly-half Cipriani was named Premiership and Rugby Players’ Association player of the year last season following his move to Kingsholm.
But England coach Eddie Jones has included the 31-year-old in just two squads since he took charge in 2016, and the playmaker has only won two caps – both against South Africa last June.
Jonny May was one of the stars of that tour, with his try in the Third Test after Cipriani’s sensational cross-field kick a real highlight-reel moment.
The Leicester Tigers winger spoke to talkSPORT ahead of the squad announcement and heaped praise on the former Wasps back for his incredible season.
“He’s a great player and obviously we are not sure on who is coming in yet, or even what the squad is,” he said.
“But he has had a brilliant season at Gloucester and the quality of players we’ve got at ten, anyone who comes in is going to do a brilliant job.”
One member of the current England squad who knows Cipriani particularly well is Joe Launchbury, with the duo lining up alongside one another for Wasps.
In the game at Gloucester towards the end of the Premiership season, Cipriani was it his magisterial best against Wasps for the Cherry and Whites.
And Launchbury is well aware of the attacking prowess the fly-half would be able to offer in a crucial World Cup game.
He said: “Obviously I’ve watched bits of Gloucester play, but not watched it as much as I watched it the year before.
“Danny has got some big strengths, he’s got a lot to offer in that side of the game, so I’m pleased the way he has gone down to Gloucester and made them play well.
“Unfortunately, like you really, it is only an opinion and not something we can control, so I think we are very lucky within this squad.
“I think you saw some of the guys who missed out; you see the strength of the squad who have been here this week and the strength of the guys who aren’t here yet through commitments in the Premiership final.
“I think you see the strength we’ve got and we’re in a pretty fortunate place at the moment to have that strength and depth for sure.”
Danny Cipriani has worked his way back into World Cup contention after being named in Eddie Jones’ preliminary England training squad.
However, Harlequins duo Kyle Sinckler and Marcus Smith have been sent back home.
The Gloucester fly-half enjoyed a fantastic season and was named as the Premiership Player of the Year as he led the Cherry and Whites to the semi-finals.
England men’s head coach Jones has announced a squad of 31 players to attend England’s second training camp at The Lensbury Hotel (30 June-4 July).
Cipriani is joined in the squad by Piers Francis (Northampton Saints), Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) and Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby).
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) will join George Kruis (Saracens) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens) in camp to continue their rehabilitation.
Jones said: “It has been a really positive week, we have worked on our fundamentals of the game, a little bit of physical conditioning and I am really pleased with the attitude of the players. They have all come back from their leave in excellent condition and the best I have seen in the time I have been with England.
“Next week we will add some players and be looking to improve our physical conditioning, ability to understand how we want to play the game and start to increase the pressure at training. We have a couple of players going back to their clubs as we feel it is in their best interests in terms of the World Cup to do that, and we will consider their participation in the squad further down the track.”
England’s official Rugby World Cup training squad will be announced by Jones at Japan House on Thursday 4 July.
England will play Wales (11 August) and Ireland (24 August) at Twickenham Stadium and Italy (6 September) in Newcastle as part of the Quilter Internationals as well as an away fixture against Wales (17 August) in Cardiff.
England will travel to Treviso, Italy for a heat camp from 22 July until 2 August before returning to Italy on 28 August until 5 September. The squad will also be based in Bristol for a week in July (14-18) and in August (12-16) ahead of England’s away match against Wales. For the two matches against Wales and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, the squad will train at Pennyhill Park.
England training squad
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)
Val Rapava Ruskin (Gloucester Rugby)
Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors)
Brad Shields (Wasps)
Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)
Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
Piers Francis (Northampton Saints)
Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby)
Dan Robson (Wasps)
Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)
Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
*In for medical treatment
George Kruis (Saracens)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
It was another busy and frantic day in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday, with the stars of the Guinness Six Nations returning to club action.
There as a London derby at West Ham’s London stadium as champions Saracens took on Harlequins.
Gloucester looked to maintain their push for a play-off place as they welcomed Wasps to Kingsholm.
And Bristol welcomed Worcester in what was a relegation battle with a nail-biting finish.
Scroll down to see a comprehensive review of all the action.
SARACENS 27-20 HARLEQUINS
Will Skelton took centre stage at the London Stadium by rescuing Saracens with two unstoppable short-range tries in a 27-20 Gallagher Premiership victory over Harlequins.
The champions fought back from a 17-6 interval deficit through touchdowns by Schalk Burger and Skelton to breathe life into a capital derby that had served up a dismal first half in front of a 42,717 crowd.
Quins were able to capitalise on the repeated mistakes made by Saracens to seize control when half-backs Marcus Smith and Danny Care crossed.
But the match was turned on its head from the moment the second half began and the fightback was done the hard way after Billy Vunipola and David Strettle had tries disallowed.
On both occasions JP Doyle’s decision-making was disputed by Saracens, who claimed that the referee should have allowed the scores to stand. The second ended with Care and Liam Williams being sent to the sin-bin for a lengthy scuffle.
But the home pack had woken up and it was another muscular short-range drive by Skelton, the outstanding Australia lock who was also named man of the match, which ultimately subdued Harlequins.
GLOUCESTER 27-14 WASPS
Gloucester maintained their push for a Gallagher Premiership play-off place after beating Wasps 27-14 at Kingsholm.
First-half tries by captain Willi Heinz and flanker Ruan Ackermann put Wasps on the back foot, while centre Billy Twelvetrees kicked two conversions and a penalty.
Wasps have won just two of their last 14 games in all competitions, and their play-off hopes effectively evaporated despite a promising start that saw them lead through wing Marcus Watson’s try and two Rob Miller penalties.
Miller booted a third penalty 17 minutes from time, and Wasps’ England back Elliot Daly sent a long-range kick well wide as Gloucester had to dig deep.
But a late Twelvetrees penalty and Jake Polledri touchdown that Twelvetrees converted ensured victory.
BRISTOL 25-27 WORCESTER
Worcester completed the double with a nail-biting 27-25 win over Bristol to boost their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Gallagher Premiership.
Warriors won 52-7 at Sixways back in October but they had to work much harder for this success and by overcoming a number of setbacks and two yellow cards to pick up a crucial win.
Ted Hill, Josh Adams and Ben Te’o scored their tries with Duncan Weir converting all three and adding two penalties.
Luke Morahan and Callum Sheedy scored tries for Bristol. There was also a penalty try award with Sheedy kicking two penalties and a conversion.
Despite thrashing France at Twickenham, England then lost to Wales away and missed out on the chance to win the Grand Slam before the tournament in Japan.
Against Scotland in their final game, captain Owen Farrell appeared to suffer a mental lapse as he made a series of fatal errors before Jones hauled the fly-half off.
With the Australian admitting he needs to bring in a sports psychologist to erase the scars from the 2015 World Cup where England capitulated.
The former Saracens coach has famously refused to call up a number of talented backs for England such as Alex Goode of Saracens.
But it is Gloucester new boy Cipriani’s continued omission which has irked Durham, who now feels the 31-year-old must lead his country on the biggest stage.
“The key point for me is that Danny Cipriani has to play; he’s been brilliant in case you don’t know,” Durham said on Wednesday.
“He doesn’t just have to play, he has to be the captain of the England rugby team and I am going to tell you why.
“It’s not just that he is a brilliant player, it’s that he is so much more than that. He is an inspiration.
“When you look at his life and the way he conducts himself – there have been little bumps in the road along the way, we all have those.
“But he has recovered from those. He has responded in the right way to those. He is an inspiration, he is a role model and he’s got a social conscience.
“If you look at the things he says, he has a column now and the things he Tweets as well, this is a guy who really cares about the world around him and that’s the kind of guy I want to be captain of my team, the captain of my country.
“He doesn’t just say all the right things and bland statements and stuff that interests nobody whatsoever. He actually has a social conscience. He cares and he uses his position wisely.
“So I would say he has shown commitment to his country as well by not just instantly going over to France and taking the money – he could have had a far more lucrative contract over there than he does in the Premiership.
*Us, the morning after another virtuoso display by Danny Cipriani*
Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it
The video features the iconic opening sequence of the American sitcom ‘The Simpsons’, followed by a a stunning try scored by Simpson for Wasps.
Meanwhile, Gloucester Rugby’s Director of Rugby, David Humphreys praised the signing of Simpson.
He said: “As we seek to build a squad that is capable of competing for honours at the highest level of the domestic and European game, strength in depth in our squad is crucial. And the addition of Joe to our ranks is a very significant one.”
It’s been an exciting night in the European Champions Cup on Friday as Exeter travelled to Gloucester, while Ulster hosted Scarlets.
Below you can read back about the best of the action.
Gloucester 17-29 Exeter Chiefs
Exeter turned the tables on Gloucester and breathed life into their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a 29-17 victory at Kingsholm.
Gloucester would have gone top of Pool Two had they repeated last Saturday’s win against the Chiefs in Devon, but it proved a frustrating night for them.
Fly-half Danny Cipriani went off injured just before half-time, and Exeter’s forwards dominated the contest, with lock Sam Skinner, flanker Don Armand, hooker Jack Yeandle and prop Harry Williams scoring tries in a bonus point success.
Cipriani’s opposite number Gareth Steenson kicked three conversions and a penalty as Gloucester managed two Jason Woodward touchdowns and a Tom Hudson try, plus a Billy Twelvetrees conversion.
But they also left Munster in pole position for a quarter-final place if they beat French champions Castres on Saturday.
Gloucester and Exeter are not out of the running, yet Munster – they visit Kingsholm next month and have Exeter at home – remain strong group favourites.
It was Exeter’s first European win of the season, and said everything about their squad depth as a number of frontline players were absent.
Gloucester showed a number of changes following their victory at Sandy Park six days ago, including South Africa international lock Franco Mostert being handed a first start for the club, while Exeter made wholesale switches.
Fresh additions to the Chiefs’ injury list included wing Alex Cuthbert, centre Henry Slade, scrum-half Nic White and flanker Matt Kvesic, but international props Alec Hepburn and Tomas Francis both returned to starting duty.
Mostert was heavily involved in the early exchanges, running and carrying strongly, while also competing fiercely at the breakdown, but Exeter monopolised possession and looked to stretch Gloucester wide.
The Chiefs even sacrificed a penalty shot in front of the posts, going for an attacking lineout instead, and their endeavour was rewarded with a 21st-minute try.
Gloucester had been in constant defence mode, rarely breaking out of their own half, and Exeter prospered after booting another penalty to touch, with their forwards driving a lineout and Skinner touching down.
Steenson converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead, and Gloucester then blew their most promising spell of the game when Mostert charged recklessly into a ruck and was penalised by referee Mathieu Raynal.
They then breached Exeter’s defence 11 minutes before half-time, driving hard through phase-play, then drawing in Chiefs tacklers and allowing Woodward to cross unopposed.
Cipriani sent the conversion attempt wide, and he departed just five minutes later, leaving the action after appearing to suffer a problem with his right shoulder.
Cipriani had barely reached the Gloucester bench before Exeter struck again through more impressive work by their forwards, and Armand claimed a try that Steenson converted for a deserved 14-5 interval advantage.
Gloucester needed a strong start to the second period, but they had the opposite, with Twelvetrees being sin-binned for a technical offence as Exeter looked to make their temporary one-man advantage count.
But Gloucester managed not to concede any points while Twelvetrees was off, although they continued to be a distant second best in terms of territory and possession.
A Steenson penalty put Exeter 12 points clear, only for Woodward to claim his second try with 15 minutes left and lift Gloucester to within striking range.
But Exeter closed out the game with skipper Yeandle’s try – they were also helped by a yellow card for Gloucester prop Josh Hohneck – and Williams’ touchdown secured a five-point maximum after Hudson crossed for Gloucester.
Ulster 30-15 Scarlets
Ulster boosted their hopes of European Champions Cup qualification with a bonus-point 30-15 win over the Scarlets to bring them a maximum 10 points from their back-to-back clashes with the Welsh side.
John Cooney scored 15 points of Ulster’s total with the bonus-point try, two conversions and two penalties, while second row Iain Henderson bagged two tries with Jacob Stockdale also crossing.
The five points Ulster claimed the same from last week’s meeting at Parc y Scarlets – brought Ulster level on points with Pool Four leaders Racing 92 ahead of their game with Leicester Tigers and ended bottom side Scarlets’ already slim chances of making the last eight.
Ulster led 10-3 at half-time and though the Scarlets, through a Jonathan Davies try, levelled things up, Dan McFarland’s side pushed on with Stockdale, Henderson – bagging his second – and Cooney crossing.
On a miserable evening of swirling wind and rain at the Kingspan, Ulster got the scoreboard moving early when Scarlets skipper Ken Owens was penalised for not rolling away and Cooney landed his first penalty after eight minutes.
Will Addison then crossed the Scarlets line on 13 minutes following a cross-kick from Billy Burns and assist from Henry Speight only for the score to be ruled out for a forward pass.
Speight then went close to scoring himself on 24 minutes but he failed to gather the ball from Addison’s kick through. Ulster had a penalty, though, and put huge pressure on the Scarlets which resulted in prop Wyn Jones being yellow-carded for illegally playing the ball.
Ulster increased the pressure, going for scrums off a series of penalties before Henderson was driven over at the posts on 32 minutes. Cooney converted to put the home side 10-0 up.
Rhys Patchell’s 38th-minute penalty gave the visitors their first points just before Jones’ return from the bin and the half ended with Ulster leading 10-3 with the conditions having seemingly favoured them in the first half.
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Eight minutes after the restart, the game exploded into life when Gareth Davies intercepted a pass on his own line and after running into Ulster’s half his cross-kick was pounced on by Jonathan Davies after Speight and Steff Evans had overrun the ball.
Patchell converted to tie the scores and the visitors were right back in the game.
But Ulster responded immediately when Burns’ chip over the top was latched onto by Stockdale who beat two defenders to touch down.
Cooney missed the difficult conversion and Ulster now led 15-10 which became 18-10 when he kicked a 57th-minute penalty.
Five minutes later and Henderson had his second when he powered over from close range after good work by Stuart McCloskey. Cooney’s conversion took Ulster’s lead to 25-10.
The bonus-point score came in the 67th minute when Rory Best – who became Ulster’s most capped player in Europe by making his 72nd appearance – drove off a maul to the line before Cooney followed up to score though he failed with the difficult conversion.
Scarlets managed a consolation score from Tom Pyride in the 78th minute which went unconverted.
Newcastle kick-started their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a stunning 26-25 win against three-time European champions Toulon on their own patch, becoming just the second side to do so.
Their only previous defeat in 24 games in Europe’s top tournament had been against Saracens two years ago, and Newcastle – bottom of the Gallagher Premiership going into the game – had to do it the hard way.
Dean Richards’ side found themselves 10 points behind early on after conceding one of the quickest tries in the history of the competition when giant lock Romain Taofifenua charged down a clearing kick with only 21 seconds on the clock.
Francois Trinh-Duc added the conversion and then kicked a seventh-minute penalty to make it 10-0 to the home side, but that was as good as it got for the hosts.
They had three players sent to the sin-bin – prop Jean-Baptiste Gros, full back Daniel Ikpefan and winger Julian Savea – and were left to rue a decision in the final five minutes to kick for the corner, rather than take the three points on offer that might have won the game.
But after Loan Goujon’s opening try and Lionel Beauxis’ conversion and penalty, the visitors gradually took command to show their attacking prowess, with Gareth Anscombe scoring a spectacular solo try during the fightback.
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Gloucester 19-14 Castres
Gloucester became the first English club to win a game in this season’s Champions Cup as they beat Castres at Kingsholm.
And four days before England head coach Eddie Jones names his autumn Test squad, fly-half Danny Cipriani led from the front.
The Gloucester playmaker, who was left out of Jones’ latest training group last month, kicked four penalties and a conversion for a 14-point haul as the England boss looked on.
Glasgow 3-13 Saracens
Saracens were made to scrap all the way as Mike Rhodes’ early try proved enough to see off gritty Glasgow 13-3 at Scotstoun.
The two sides had crossed a combined 57 tries in just six matches apiece in the build-up to their Heineken Champions Cup opener but the expected score-fest failed to materialise.
Instead, the cross-border skirmish proved to be a tense, bad-blooded affair pot-marked by basic errors, inexplicable refereeing calls and numerous feisty head-to-heads.
In the end, Rhodes’ first-half touchdown and eight points from the boot of Owen Farrell gave the joint-Gallagher Premiership leaders first blood in Pool 3, leaving Glasgow ahead of what already appears to be a make-or-break trip to Cardiff next Sunday.
Lyon 21-30 Cardiff
Cardiff Blues marked their return to the Champions Cup after a four-season gap with only their fourth win in 21 games on French soil.
Lyon’s debut in the tournament got off to a flyer, taking a 10-0 lead as they sought revenge for their double defeat to the Blues as the Welsh side went all the way to win the Challenge Cup for the second time last season.
Bath were punished for fielding a weakened team against Saracens as Liam Williams ran in a hat-trick of tries to help the Gallagher Premiership champions claim a 50-27 victory at Allianz Park.
Director of rugby Todd Blackadder made 13 changes to the side that toppled Northampton, including Toby Faletau, Luke Charteris, Sam Underhill and Joe Cokanasiga among the group of front-line players rested.
Blackadder’s decision was shaped by Exeter’s visit to the Recreation Ground on Friday, but the price was paid in north London where Saracens had the bonus point sown up before half-time and amassed eight tries in total.
To Bath’s credit they trailed only 26-20 at the interval and were persistent throughout, but they were outclassed and would have finished further behind had Alex Goode and Williams not blundered in the final act of scoring.
Goode could be forgiven his mistake, however, as his lines of running, step and vision made him untouchable at times and the full-back repeatedly overlooked by England head coach Eddie Jones finished as man of the match.
Exeter continued their impressive start to the season with a fifth successive win as Worcester became their latest victims in a hard-fought 28-21 success at Sandy Park.
The Warriors were competitive in the opening quarter but conceded three tries in the second to ensure that there was to be no repeat of last season’s shock 6-5 win at Sandy Park, which was the only occasion that Exeter were beaten in the league on their home ground.
Dave Ewers scored two tries for Exeter, Jack Yeandle and Harry Williams one apiece, with Gareth Steenson converting all four.
Two penalties from Chris Pennell and a try from Ted Hill were Worcester’s response as they now have their eyes firmly set on next week’s crucial home game with Premiership newcomers Bristol.
Bristol suffered their first Gallagher Premiership home defeat of the season as Northampton claimed a 45-40 bonus point victory at Ashton Gate.
The teams served up an 11-try spectacular in the west country sunshine to maintain this season’s trend of high-scoring encounters.
And Saints, without an away league success since April, had enough in the tank to deny a Bristol side that had already claimed wins on home soil against Bath and Harlequins.
Northampton often made hard work of it, but they got over the line after tries from Ehren Painter, Andrew Kellaway, Lewis Ludlam, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Alex Waller and Mike Haywood, while fly-half Dan Biggar kicked five conversions and a penalty and Harry Mallinder also landed a conversion.
Bristol only led once in the game, yet they refused to go quietly, with centre Will Hurrell (two), hooker Harry Thacker and wings Luke Morahan and Alapati Leiua all claiming touchdowns and fly-half Callum Sheedy booting 15 points.
Harlequins won for the first time in the Gallagher Premiership since the first match of the season as a thumping clash saw them overhaul home team Gloucester 27-25.
Two tries from wing Nathan Earle plus the boots of fly-half James Lang, with two penalties an a conversion, plus his replacement Marcus Smith, who landed three penalties, saw the Londoners to victory.
Fly-half Danny Cipriani scored 15 of Gloucester’s points with a try, two penalties and two conversions with wing Charlie Sharples crossing the Harlequins line twice.
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