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Hodgson to captain England Saxons in Barclays Churchill Cup opener

31 May 2006

PAUL HODGSON will lead England Saxons into their Barclays Churchill Cup defence against Scotland on Saturday.

Head Coach Jon Callard today named the 24-year-old London Irish scrum-half as captain for the game at York Stadium, Toronto.

Hodgson was voted the Most Improved Player of the Year by the Exiles in a season that saw them reach the Guinness Premiership championship semi-finals and the European Challenge Cup Final

"Paul is a natural captain - he leads from the front and is competitive, communicative and committed," said Callard. "He is coming off the back of a good season, his confidence is high and it's right that we should utilise that enthusiasm.  It was always the intention to have match-day captains as well as a tour captain (David Barnes) and there will be opportunities for others to lead the side."

Clive Stuart-Smith was not considered at No 9 because of a slight hamstring strain but Callard admitted it was a close call between Hodgson and Richard Wigglesworth of Guinness Premiership champions Sale Sharks.

"It's really tough on Richard, who played exceptionally well in the final last weekend, but he is on the bench and there are two more games in this tournament so everyone will get game time," he said. "

Hodgson will be partnered by Dave Walder, playing his third Churchill Cup, while Kai Horstmann, a late call-up for the injured James Forrester, is named at No 8.

"The back row was the toughest call of all, especially leaving out Kieran Roche, who has had an exceptional season but I think we have got the balance of the pack right for this particular game," added Callard.

England Saxons
15 Michael Horak (London Irish)
14 Delon Armitage (London Irish)
13 Ben Johnston (Saracens)
12 Sam Vesty (Leicester Tigers)
11 Ayoola Erinle (London Wasps)
10 Dave Walder (Newcastle Falcons)
9 Paul Hodgson (capt, London Irish)
1 David Barnes (Bath Rugby)
2 James Buckland (Leicester Tigers)
3 Stuart Turner (Sale Sharks)
4 James Hudson (Bath Rugby)
5 Dean Schofield (Sale Sharks)
6 Andy Beattie (Bath Rugby)
7 David Seymour (Saracens)
8 Kai Horstmann (Worcester Warriors)
16 David Paice (London Irish)
17 Micky Ward (Newcastle Falcons)
18 Nick Kennedy (London Irish)
19 Ben Woods (Newcastle Falcons)
20 Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks)
21 Alex Crockett (Bath Rugby)
22 Chris Bell (Leeds Tykes)

Barclays Churchill Cup match schedule
(All matches shown live on SkySports)

Saturday June 3 2006
Pool A (Toronto)
England Saxons v Scotland A, York Stadium, 2.45pm local time (7.45pm UK)

Pool B (San Francisco)
USA v Ireland A, Santa, Clara Stadium, 2pm (10pm UK)

Wednesday June 7
Pool A (Ottawa)
Canada v Scotland A, Twin Elm Stadium, 6.30pm (11.30pm UK)

Pool B (San Francisco)
USA v New Zealand Maori, Santa Clara Stadium, 7.30pm (3.30am Thurs June 8 UK)

Saturday June 10
Pool A (Toronto)
England Saxons v Canada, York Stadium, 2.45pm local time (7.45pm UK)

Saturday June 17 (Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton)
Matches from 12pm (7pm UK)
Barclays Churchill Cup, Bowl final
Barclays Churchill Cup Final
Barclays Churchill Cup Plate final