England are set to face South Africa in the Rugby World Cup semi-final this Saturday night, at the Stade de France, in Saint Denis – the victor will face either Argentina or New Zealand in Sunday’s grand final.
Among those in the Red Roses are two with connections to Nottingham, George Martin, and Ollie Chessum, the former being born in Nottingham just 22 years ago, and the latter having played for the regions’ flagship Archers, during the 2019-20 season.
Now, both playing at Lock for nearby, Premiership outfit, Leicester Tigers, finished third last season, whilst the season before the helped the Tigers lift the Premiership title, by six points from runners-up, Saracens.
Nottingham-born, George Martin, is the least-experienced of the starting XV picked by Head Coach Steve Borthwick for the semi-final clash with the Springboks, registering just three starts in his eight caps to date.
Borthwick however knows of both Martin, and Chessum, from his time with the Tigers and said: “There is no doubt the players will truly relish the challenge of knockout rugby under the lights in Paris.
“These players will, as they have done in every game of this tournament, give absolutely everything in the semi-final to get the result we want.”
Speaking of facing the Springboks, and the upcoming challenge of a World Cup semi-final, the Red Roses having been runners-up in the same tournament as recently as 2019, Chessum added: “It’s massively exciting, they have some unbelievable players in their pack.
“They bring and exceptional level of physicality. It’s up to us to go out on the weekend and compete against that.
“We are definitely hoping for another step forward, that’s been the nature of the competition. Week by week we have grown as a group and got better in various aspects of our game.
“South Africa are unbelievable across the board and we have got to be the same, if not better. It’s important that we bring the physicality but also the level of execution as well at the weekend.”
Another England star with Nottingham connections in the World Cup squad is that of prop Dan Cole, also of Leicester Tigers, he having played for the Archers, on-loan, during the 2008-09 season
England’s starting XV for the World Cup semi-final – Freddie Steward; Jonny May, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi, Elliot Daly; Owen Farrell (capt), Alex Mitchell; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, George Martin, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Ben Earl
Replacements: Theo Dan, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Ollie Chessum, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence
South Africa’s starting XV for the semi-final – Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Manie Libbok, Cobus Reinach; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @EnglandRugby Ollie Chessum and George Martin have local connections.