The England Women Under 20s squad to take on France in a two test series next month has been announced.
The side will play France on Wednesday April 4 and Saturday April 7 at Moulton College and will be looking to bounce back from their 50-0 defeat to France earlier this month in Paris.
The England Women U20s squad have been boosted by the inclusion of Saracens flanker Hannah Gallagher, who was a pivotal member of the England team that secured a record seventh successive Six Nations title last weekend and a Grand Slam. Since making her England seniors’ debut in November Gallagher has amassed six caps but at just 20 she still qualifies for England’s junior squad.
Head Coach Amanda Bennett said it had been a "fantastic year" for Gallagher.
"She has played for England with all the passion, commitment and guile that we know she possesses so we will be delighted to see her pull on an U20s shirt again against France," Bennett added. "The experience she’s had at senior level will be invaluable and the U20s players around her will learn a great deal from her experiences.”
Bennett has retained all 22 players who suffered a tough defeat to France nearly two weeks ago but has also called up Emily Scott and Leanne Riley who have most recently been involved with the England Sevens squad. Waterloo’s Ellie Prescott could also be set to make her U20s bow while Richmond’s Fiona Davidson will once again captain the squad.
“Although losing to France will have been a tremendously difficult experience for these players, many have already expressed how much they learned,” Bennett said. “The key now is to take the disappointment and the experience and translate this into a stronger, more competitive performance in April. Certainly, France’s physicality created problems for us and we will need to match this if we are going to be able to compete with them.
“In short, we have got to put in better performances as individuals and as a team. We never set out to simply win any of these games though. Our primary goal is to develop a squad of players who know how to play the game to the standard required at international level.
"This means we will look at the detail behind the defeat and build on strengths as we eradicate mistakes. There are aspects of the first France game that worked well and we can build on these including areas where we will attack France. They will rightfully have been delighted with the result but must know there are areas to improve as well. Other than this, we will aim to be more physical and ruthless, more competitive and more composed than in Paris.”
England Women U20s Squad
Bianca Blackburn (Gloucester), Lauren Cattell (Chesham), Fiona Davidson (C) (Richmond), Louise Dennis (Worcester), Hannah Edwards (Wasps), Mica Evans (Saracens), Fiona Fletcher (VC) (Lichfield), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), Ellen Gattlin (Saracens), Courtney Gill (Plymouth Albion), Megan Goddard (Hartpury), Emily Hatherall (Worcester), Rebecca Hughes (Bristol), Rachel Jones (Lichfield), Sian McGuinness (Tyldesley), Amy Needham (Paviors),
Charlotte Notman (Penryn), Megan Oaten (Bristol), Georgia Peedle (Saracens), Ellie Prescott (Waterloo), Catherine Pugh (Rochford Hundred), Leanne Riley (Saracens), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Emily Scott (Thurrock), Katie Turnbull (Thornbury), Carys Williams (Lichfield)
England Under 20s 2011/2012 Fixtures:
March 11, France U20s v England U20s, Suzan Lenglen Stadium, Paris, France 50 - England 0
April 4, England U20s v France U20s, Moulton College, KO 2.30pm
April 7, England U20s v France U20s, Moulton College, KO 1pm
July, Dates TBC, England U20s will play the USA in two test matches, Moulton College