Borthwick named captain - following Japanese Rugby acclaim, it's back to school

Tier 2 nations have had their time at Rugby World Cup 2015 as we we enter the knockout phase. Their performances during the group stages have been phenomenal; none more so than Japan's victory over the mighty South Africa.

Punching above their weight was a commonly reported theme in the UK media. The role of overseas coaches was widely applauded; particular reference made to the set piece, defence and a team ethic.

It reminded me of my old school, Hutton Grammar School near Preston. Originally a Grammar School but more latterly a state comprehensive with strong links to the church. A school that over many years has challenged the elite rugby schools and provided local clubs, county and country with representatives.

Forwards: 1 Max Ashcroft (Tarleton RFC, Bath Rugby and Sedgley Park), 2 Brad Horton (Preston Grasshoppers and Hutton RFC), 3 John Hulmes, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 5 Dan Hall (Preston Grasshoppers and Sale Sharks), 6 Garth Dew (Preston Grasshoppers, Sedgley Park and Sale Sharks), 7 Ben Vernon (Preston Grasshoppers, Sale Sharks and Fylde), 8 Mike Halewood (Fylde)

Backs: 9 Phil Caslake (Leeds Carnegie and Hutton RFC), 10 Mick Wilson, 11 Tony Swift (Bath Rugby), 12 Carl Aspinwall, 13 Howard Stableford, 14 Duncan Dalgleish, 15 Mike Haley (Preston Grasshoppers and Sale Sharks)

Subs: 16 Geoff Fitzgerald, 17 Paul Wallace, 18 Dave Forrest, 19 Dave Young/Nick Eckersley (Fylde), 20 Skofic x6, 21 Steve Crook, 22 Ian Wright, 23 Steve "Fat Harry" Harrison, 24 Michael Turner

Head Coach: Brian Ashton
Coach: Bob Kennedy
Assistant Coaches: Iain Rawsthorne, Paul Manley, Lee Waddell, Graham Aitchison, Alf Oddie
Manager: Dave 'Ted' Walton

The first task was to select a captain and that selection went to Steve Borthwick, former England captain and during this Rugby World Cup, forwards coach for Japan. Borthwick played for Preston Grasshoppers before joining Bath Rugby. He became their club captain before joining Saracens. Local gossip says his nick name at Hutton was 'Biff'.

Then we needed a coaching set up that could compete against the so called House of Lancaster. The two candidates for Head coach boiled down to former England World Cup coach Brian Ashton and late Bob Kennedy of Fylde Rugby. Ashton got the nod as Head Coach but with Kennedy alongside.

This looks like a world beating leadership group and being extremely biased would say better than the House of Lancaster.

The playing squad has players from as far back as 1968 and as recent as 2011. Local clubs including Fylde, Preston Grasshoppers and Tarleton are well represented in the squad. Surprisingly Bath Rugby has three mentions with Tony Swift, former England winger, joining Borthwick and Max Ashcroft. Borthwick's school mates from a Daily Mail semi final include hooker Brad Horton and Phil Caslake.

England age grade players Hall, Vernon and Dew played at Preston Grasshoppers and Sale Sharks. Dew is now first team coach at Hoppers with Vernon earning rave reviews as a genuine 7 at Fylde Rugby - perhaps another edge over the House of Lancaster.

The centre pairing is far more attacking than most England teams with dual code Aspinwall (Rugby and Football) and BBC presenter Stableford being incredibly creative.

At full back there is the 2014/15 young player of the year at Sale Sharks, Mike Haley; surely a future England international.

The bench is slightly larger to accommodate a Fylde triumvirate of Halewood, Young and Eckersley - the enforcers.

Plus there is the Slovenian international Skofic brothers plus their late father, Jon. All have played at Tarleton Rugby and cover the back row, centres and wing.

There are plenty of players that will have been missed but we are convinced these school boys from Hutton Grammar School could hold their own playing at the Rugby World Cup.

To those we've missed apologies to those selected, congratulations!