Clubs resist pressure to rest England players

Seven England players will start matches for their clubs this weekend even though the national team wanted them rested for the Six Nations.

The Rugby Football Union's director of elite rugby, Rob Andrew, and head coach Brian Ashton wanted the 15 players named to face Ireland on Feb. 24 to sit out Premiership league games.

Instead, Olly Morgan, Josh Lewsey, Andy Farrell, Jason Robinson, Danny Grewcock, Joe Worsley and Magnus Lund will all start when the domestic competition resumes after a 20-day break.

Only forwards Phil Vickery, George Chuter, Louis Deacon, Martin Corry and Perry Freshwater were rested.

Flyhalf Harry Ellis is on the bench at Leicester, while Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall were not considered by Newcastle and Gloucester respectively because of injuries.

"Had Jonny been fit, he would have been involved at Bristol," Newcastle director of rugby John Fletcher said. "I would have to be a stark raving lunatic to go into such a game without one of the best players in the world.

"Supporters are upset with suggestions that we have rested him but he is carrying bumps, bruises and strains after two massive games with England and I decided, after consulting with Jonny and our medical team, that he was not fit to play."

Wilkinson has scored 42 of 62 points in his team's two Six Nations games so far, reports AP.

Ashton's decision to name his starting lineup 11 days ahead of the game against Ireland was to put pressure on the clubs to rest players. He did not want them to report for England training on Monday with injuries ahead of the vital game in Dublin.

Almost all Ireland's 22-man squad will have the weekend off.

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