The Lobos captured hearts and imaginations at France 2023
England A will play Portugal at Welford Road in February with fans getting the chance to watch the Lobos’ 2023 Rugby World Cup heroes in action.
England men’s second string side, formerly the Saxons until 2021, has been revived to help give more players game time as they transition from age-grade pathways on the path to becoming senior internationals. The fixture is subject to World Rugby approval but tickets are available to be in the stands at the home of Leicester Tigers.
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Portugal won their first ever World Cup game with a thrilling 24-23 win over Fiji in their final Pool C fixture, securing their place as the tournament’s break-out side. The Flying Fijians only needed a losing bonus point to progress to the quarter-finals where England beat them 30-24 in Marseille.
The fixture will take place on Sunday, 25 February 2024 – during the third round of the Six Nations and on the same day that France host Italy in the Championship. England travel to Scotland the previous day to contest the Calcutta Cup.
Steve Borthwick will select the 23 to face Portugal but a coaching team from across the Premiership will be chosen in consultation with Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL). It will be the first second-string England match since the 2021 game against Scotland A, also at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, fell by the wayside.
England A to play Portugal: Reaction
“It brings us great excitement to be renewing our A side in 2024,” said RFU Executive Director of Performance Rugby, Conor O’Shea. “Historically it has been a platform for some of the country’s next best players to showcase their talent whilst representing England.
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“Portugal demonstrated their capabilities as a rugby nation on the world stage in recent months with their attacking flair and passion – we can’t wait for more of that in the New Year. They are a team possessing many bright stars for the future and are a befitting opponent for our A squad.
“England Rugby wants to be part of providing game time and mutual collaboration for emerging nations such as Portugal, who have a great deal to offer to the game and I’m sure both they and our A side will gain a lot from February’s match. This builds on partnerships we have with other emerging nations and are looking to develop further links with other emerging unions.”