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England Women change five for critical European Cup clash

17 May 2012

  • England and France contest European Cup crown
  • England Sevens champions Kat Merchant and Emily Scarratt start
England Women's back Emily Scarratt in action against France

Photo: RFU Archive

The England Women’s team to play France in the winner takes all FIRA-AER European Cup clash this Saturday in Rovereto, Italy, kick off 630pm BST, has been announced.

Head Coach Graham Smith has made five changes, and one positional, to the team that defeated Italy 32-8 on Tuesday. Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter will once again captain the side which welcomes back Emily Scarratt and Katherine Merchant to the starting line-up. Both Merchant and Scarratt were involved in England’s victory in the IRB Challenge Cup Sevens in London last Sunday.

Bristol’s Marlie Packer and Worcester’s Rochelle Clark return to bolster a strong England pack, while Ceri Large moves to fly half and Kim Oliver is back in at centre.

Smith, whose side like France have defeated both Italy and Spain in this tournament, said: "The spirit in the camp is very good and we are confident that we have a strong enough team to defend our European Cup crown.

England Women's wing Kat Merchant charges forward against New Zealand

Photo: RFU Archive

"This is a strong England pack, while our backs have also been performing. Georgina Rozario is playing some of her best rugby ever at scrum half and Ceri Large is developing into a good international fly half. Kim Oliver has also been in top form this season, Emily, Kat and Danielle are world class players while Lydia really has the potential to be a world class wing."

The final England versus France match is set to be a thriller with matches this season between the two sides evenly matched. France have beaten England twice this season, but England took the most recent victory in the Six Nations in March.

Smith added: "Our players like nothing better than playing France and they’ll be really up for it. We know we’ll have to be at the top of our game for this one, with France being a tough and physical side. Like us they have some new caps in their squad, but they also have the nucleus of their Six Nations side here. They have a good kicking game, can move the ball around well and have a big effective pack and we know they’ll be really up for this match."

England Women v France

15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
11 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
10 Ceri Large (Worcester)
9 Georgina Rozario         
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
6 Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol)
8 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)

Replacements

16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield)
18 Emily Braund (Lichfield)
19 Gemma Sharples (Worcester)
20 Fiona Davidson (Richmond)
21 Lauren Cattell (Chesham)
22 Sally Tuson (Bristol)
23 Kate Newton (Bristol)
24 Fiona Fletcher (Lichfield)
25 Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

England Women’s European Cup Schedule

Spain v England, May 12, WON 61-0.
Italy v England, May 15,WON 32-8
France v England, May 19, KO 6.30pm