Eng­land trio in line for award

Daily Mail - - Rugby Union - CHRIS FOY

OWEN FAR­RELL leads a three-strong English chal­lenge for the Six Na­tions player of the cham­pi­onship award, along with Sara­cens team-mate Maro Itoje and Wasps lock Joe Launch­bury. The trio were in­cluded yes­ter­day on a 12-man short­list for the prize, which is de­cided by pub­lic vote. Last year’s winner, Scot­land full back Stu­art Hogg, is on the list, as are the Welsh duo Ken Owens (hooker) and Rhys Webb (scrum-half). Toulon con­firmed yes­ter­day that Mike Ford, the for­mer Eng­land and Bath coach, will be leav­ing the club in the sum­mer. But spec­u­la­tion that he may take charge of Le­ices­ter — where his sons George and Joe are mov­ing at the end of the sea­son — was un­founded. Aus­tralian Matt O’Con­nor will re­turn to the Tigers as head coach in April. He re­places Aaron Mauger, who will leave the role af­ter Satur­day’s match against Northampton Saints. Pre­mier­ship Rugby have given for­mal back­ing to a new global sea­son struc­ture which, from 2019-20, will see league cam­paigns start in early Septem­ber and run un­til the end of June.

GETTY IM­AGES

In the frame: Maro Itoje (left) and Joe Launch­bury Driv­ing force: Owen Far­rell starred in the Six Na­tions

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