Six Nations: Perfect symmetry to Richard Wigglesworth’s England journey

England's Richard Wigglesworth during the captain's run at Twickenham, London, before England played Wales. (Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire)
England's Richard Wigglesworth during the captain's run at Twickenham, London, before England played Wales. (Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire)
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On february 10, 2008, a wide-eyed Lancastrian made his England debut as a scrum-half replacement for Andy Gomarsall in a Six Nations encounter against Italy in Rome.

Richard Wigglesworth took the field that day alongside the great Jonny Wilkinson, who would later be replaced by Danny Cipriani – a man in the news yesterday for announcing he would be leaving Wasps at the end of the season.

Fast forward a decade to the day and on February 10, 2018, Wigglesworth came on as a second-half scrum-half replacement for Danny Care to help England over the line against Wales.

It produced a 28th cap for the Blackpool-born Saracens No 9, and comes two and half years after he thought his international career had come to an end.

“It’s nice that my last England game is not Uruguay in a dead rubber,” smiled Wigglesworth, in relation to the 27th cap he won in England’s meaningless pool game in Manchester after they had already been eliminated from their home World Cup.

“As much as I said at the time that it didn’t bother me, I remember sitting in that changing room after thinking this would be a tragic way for my international career to finish.

I got a little taste towards the end of last season with the Barbarians game and thought this is definitely something I want to be a part of.

Richard Wigglesworth

“Maybe that’s why I’m so pleased to be here.”

Wigglesworth’s reintegration back into the international fold owes much to his own patience and perseverance, but also the lack of depth at scrum-half beyond Care and Ben Youngs.

Like Care, who passed Matt Dawson as England’s most-capped scrum-half by starting against Wales, the majority of Wigglesworth’s appearances have come from the bench.

And even though his return only came because of the Six Nations-ending knee injury sustained by Youngs in Rome last week, it was an opportunity the 34-year-old could not let slip by.

“Eddie has shown a lot of confidence in me,” said Wigglesworth.

“I got a little taste towards the end of last season with the Barbarians game and thought this is definitely something I want to be a part of.”

Ten years after coming on alongside Wilkinson, he got to share the half-back axis with his Saracens club-mate, and a player in the same mould as Wilkinson, in Owen Farrell.

“Owen’s one of the easiest players to play with because he’s so loud, bossing everyone around,” said Wiggleseworth.

“That’s why he’s one of the world’s best players; not just because of the impact he has on the game, but also the effect he has on all the people around him.”