In 150 years of English rugby, the pack has often been the source of English success. This article examines the evolution of the English pack and key partnerships since forward positions first began to develop into their recognisable modern form in the early 1920s.
Every successful England side since 1920 has relied on a secure forward platform provided by the front row.
The Devon trio of Ernie Gardner, Frank Sanders and Bill Luddington played in England's 1923 Grand Slam campaign, and Luddington was joined by Reg Edwards and Alan Robson in a further Grand Slam in 1924. Bristol hooker Sam Tucker who made his debut in 1922 and went on to win 27 caps, was joined by props Herb Stanbury, Ronald Cove-Smith and Robert Sparks in another Grand Slam season in 1928.
DA 'Joe' Kendrew, Ernie Nicholson and Ray Longland, most capped pre-war English prop, formed the front row in four matches in 1936, including England's historic victory over the All Blacks. The trio of Bob Stirling, Eric Evans as hooker and Wally Holmes played in 10 internationals from 1951 to 1953 and Evans was joined by props Ron Jacobs and George Hastings for the 1957 Grand Slam season.
In the mid-1970s hooker John Pullin played alongside Stack Stevens and Fran Cotton in 10 matches. Cotton with Phil Blakeway and hooker Peter Wheeler underpinned the 1980 Grand Slam triumph.
Jason Leonard, England's most capped forward, Brian Moore and Jeff Probyn played a record 21 matches in the front row including the 1991 World Cup Final and the 1991 and 1992 Grand Slams. The victorious 2003 World Cup Final front row was Phil Vickery, Steve Thompson and Trevor Woodman, and Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole anchored the scrum in 20 matches from 2012.