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As England and France Women go head-to-head on Sunday in a potential RBS 6 Nations title decider at the Stade Charlety in Paris, the day will be extra special for Wasps wing Michaela Staniford who is set to win her 50th cap.
Staniford will join an elite band of players who have had the honour of pulling on the England jersey 50 plus times, including Tamara Taylor, Margaret Alphonsi, Katy McLean, Amy Turner and Rochelle Clark who are all named in the 22 for this weekend’s game.
The Wasps wing became England’s youngest ever international player back in 2005 when she made her debut against Wales at the age of just 17. She has since gone on to compete in two Rugby World Cups in the XVs game and the 2009 inaugural Rugby World Cup 7s. She is also currently co-captain of the England Sevens team.
“Sunday will be very special, winning my 50th cap,” said the 24-year-old, who also works as a teacher in Buckinghamshire. “I am sure it will be a memory that will stick with me for quite a long time, and I hope we can make sure we come away from Paris with a victory as that is the most important thing.”
Staniford has been England’s try machine this season, running in five touch downs in England’s Six Nations victories against Scotland, Italy and Wales and she’ll be hoping to get on the scoreboard again this Sunday.
Photo: Getty Images
“It’s great to be on the score board a lot but really it just shows that everyone around me is doing their jobs and although it’s a cliché I am just in the right place at the right time,” added Staniford. “Hopefully that run can continue this weekend but we know this is going to be our toughest game so far.
“Playing France in France is always unpredictable. They are strong and their supporters are fantastic so they will be rallied on by that. Certainly they are a very different team when they are playing at home. They have this ability to upset and they can capitalise massively and really fuel the stakes. We have to make sure we keep them at bay.
“For us, we enjoy playing expansive rugby, offloading and playing a fast paced game but we are always looking at areas that we can improve on. Nothing is ever perfect and we are always striving to get better. Every game is different so we need to make sure we are as best prepared as we possibly can be in all areas, especially on Sunday.”
France have not lost a home match since 2010 when England beat them 11-10 in Rennes.
The match will be available to watch live on Sky Sport HD2, the Red Button.