- Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter to lead England against France on November
- Gary Street selects youthful squad for first Test of autumn
Photo: RFU Archive
England Women’s Autumn International Series kicks off against France on November 3, and Head Coach Gary Street has named a 23-woman squad for the match at Esher RFC (6pm).
Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter will captain England for this match, while Danielle Waterman is named as vice-captain. Heather Fisher, Rowena Burnfield, Alice Richardson and Rochelle Clark are the other experienced names spearheading the group, sharing 238 caps between them.
At the same time Street has named a largely young squad as he looks to give several Elite Playing Squad (EPS) members a run-out before the three-Test series against world champions New Zealand next month.
Bristol centre Amber Reed is set to make her debut, while the likes of Kate Newton, Emily Braund, Ruth Laybourn, Fiona Davidson and Sally Tuson will be looking to build on the handful of caps they earned at last season’s European Cup.
Heather Fisher, Jane Leonard, Claire Allan and Francesca Matthews also all return to XVs action after lengthy injury lay-offs and will be looking to make a big impression against France ahead of the series against the Black Ferns.
Photo: RFU Archive
Street said: “This is very much an experimental squad though we still have a vast array of experienced players.
"Playing France is always tough so this is a great chance to test the mental strength of the younger players in a big game environment as we lead into the excitement of the New Zealand series. This squad has certainly been selected with one eye on playing the world champions.
"At the same time, playing France is also an opportunity to give game time to several players who are returning to XVs rugby after a long period out with injuries.
"Although the likes of Heather Fisher and Jane Leonard have been playing international sevens, they have not played XVs for quite some time so it’s great to have them back in the fold. Both are physical, powerful and exciting players that will bring a lot of impact, alongside Sarah Hunter, in our backrow."
England last played France in the European Cup final in May and the young side took a 29-25 victory. With England and France evenly matched with two wins each from last season, November’s Test match is set to be a thriller.
Street added: "We relish playing France – it is always a massive match – and I am sure after their European Cup defeat they’ll be smarting. They will come over here determined to put one over us on our turf, so this match will be a great challenge against one of our closest rivals."
England Women's Squad
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Emily Braund (Lichfield)
Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
Emma Croker (Richmond)
Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield)
Fiona Davidson (Richmond)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
Laura Keates (Worcester)
Ceri Large (Worcester)
Ruth Laybourn (Darlington)
Jane Leonard (Wasps)
Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Kate Newton (Bristol)
Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Amber Reed (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Sally Tuson (Bristol)
Danielle Waterman (VC) (Worcester)
England Women's Autumn International Series
Nov 3, 2012: England v France – Esher RFC, KO 6pm
Nov 23, 2012: England v New Zealand – Esher RFC, KO 7.30pm
Nov 27, 2012: England v New Zealand – Aldershot Army Rugby Stadium, KO 7.30pm
Dec 1, 2012: England v New Zealand – Twickenham Stadium , KO 5pm (Live on Sky Sports 1HD)
Tickets for England’s Autumn International Series are available now via Ticketmaster, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for Under 16s.
This excludes the England v New Zealand game at Twickenham on December 1 as there is free entry to the stadium following the conclusion of the men’s match.