- French test sets challenging standard for England Women Under 20
- Heavy Paris defeat can provide incentive against France
England Women Under 20 embark on a precipitous learning curve on Wednesday and Saturday next week (April 4 and April 7) at Moulton College in Northamptonshire when they tackle a French Under 20 side that only three weeks ago beat them 50-0 in Paris.
By any stretch, the challenge is a daunting one, but with all the players who shared the Paris experience still in the squad, the collective chance to demonstrate their capacity to learn and improve should be a potent tool in the team’s armoury.
Assistant Coach Steve Halsey spelled out the challenge when he said: "Having played France already last month, the real test for the squad is to see an improvement in performance.
"Our focus in this game will be to work on the areas of our game that we identified as those where we fell short in Paris. This is a young side and for a lot of the players the game in Paris was their first taste of U20 international rugby.
"This game provides a real opportunity for us as a squad to demonstrate that we are developing individually and collectively."
While the entire Paris team is retained, there are additions to the squad, with adjustments to the match arrangements agreed with France which allow all 26 squad members to be named and 23 to take part in the game on Wednesday.
There is also the inclusion of Saracens flanker Hannah Gallagher to add experience to a squad which in many cases was being exposed to international opposition at Under 20s level for the first time. Gallagher has recently been a member of the senior England team that secured the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Also joining the squad are England Sevens squad members Emily Scott and Leanne Riley, while making her debut at Moulton will be Waterloo prop Ellie Prescott.
"Ellie has just been called into the squad for this camp after some very good performances for the North senior team in the Divisional programme," said Player Development Manager Andy Paton. "She’s done very well this season and I’m sure she’ll be very keen to make an impact now she’s representing her club and Lancashire in the England squad."
England Women U20 Squad
(Name, Club, County, Division, Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence College)
Bianca Blackburn (Gloucester, Gloucestershire, South West, Hartpury College), Lauren Cattell (Chesham, Buckinghamshire, South West, Moulton College), Fiona Davidson (Richmond, Surrey, London & South East), Louise Dennis (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West), Hannah Edwards (Wasps, Middlesex, London & South East), Mica Evans (Saracens, Hertfordshire, London & South East), Fiona Fletcher (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens, Hertfordshire, London & South East), Ellen Gattlin (Saracens, Essex, London & South East), Courtney Gill (Plymouth Albion, Devon, South West, Hartpury College), Megan Goddard (Hartpury, Gloucestershire, South West, Hartpury College), Emily Hatherall (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West), Rebecca Hughes (Bristol, Somerset, South West), Rachel Jones (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands), Sian McGuinness (Tyldesley, Lancashire, North), Amy Needham (Paviors, Notts, Lincs & Derbys, Midlands, Moulton College), Charlotte Notman (Penryn, Cornwall, South West), Megan Oaten (Bristol, Gloucester, South West), Georgia Peedle (Saracens, Hertfordshire, London & South East), Ellie Prescott (Waterloo, Lancashire, North), Catherine Pugh (Rochford Hundred, Essex, London & South East), Leanne Riley (Saracens, Hertfordshire, London & South East), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, Northumberland, North), Emily Scott (Thurrock, Essex, London & South East), Katie Turnbull (Thornbury, Gloucestershire, South West, Hartpury College), Carys Williams (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands, Moulton College),
England Women Under 20 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