- Chamberlain set to make England debut
- England name a young backline
Richmond centre Abigail Chamberlain is set to make her England XVs debut after being named in the starting line-up to face Scotland in the opening round of the Six Nations this Saturday, kick-off 2pm at Esher RFC.
Chamberlain, who has played for England A and even captained England Sevens, makes up part of a young England backline, with several regulars – the likes of Emily Scarratt, Katy McLean and Alice Richardson – all involved in the Sevens World Series in Houston this weekend.
Worcester’s Ceri Large and Lichfield’s Georgina Gulliver make up the half backs, while Chamberlain is joined in the centre by Amber Reed, who made her England debut against France in the autumn internationals. Twice capped Lauren Cattell starts at fullback, with Lydia Thompson and Kay Wilson named on the wings. Wilson is returning to international action for the first time in nine months.
England have a more experienced pack with captain Sarah Hunter starting at No.8. Emma Croker and Roz Crowley are the experienced heads in the front row and they are joined by Bristol’s Kate Newton, who will start just her third game for England. In the second row Tamara Taylor and Emily Braund start and Hannah Gallagher and Jo McGilchrist make up a powerful backrow unit with Hunter.
The return of Wasps’ McGilchrist sees her start her first game in 17 months after being sidelined with an injury, and she is not the only long term injury returnee back in action with Rebecca Essex and Fiona Pocock also named on the bench.
Lichfield’s Harriet Millar-Mills has also been named on the bench and if she gets on she could be up against big sister Bridget, who looks set to make her debut for Scotland on Saturday.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “This year’s Six Nations is an exciting challenge for me and Graham Smith. Training has gone well with several new faces in the squad; we are looking fresh and the team are really up for this.
“Despite missing several players to the Sevens WRWC training squad this is still a strong starting line-up, and I am sure many teams would also still fear our bench. Many of our players may only have a handful of caps between them but the likes of Amber Reed, Hannah Gallagher and Ceri Large have all played France and the world champions New Zealand, and have beaten them.”
As defending Grand Slam champions, on paper England will be favourites for this clash but this is a huge year for Scotland as they could use the Six Nations to qualify for the 2014 Rugby World Cup.
Scotland know they must finish as a top-two side, outside of England and France who have already qualified, over the 2012 and 2013 championships to book their place at 2014. In theory that could mean they have to win at least three games this season, but that is something they have not done since 2005.
Street added: “This is a big year for Scotland with RWC qualification at stake so we are not going to be taking anything for granted. They have got some very strong forwards and an excellent captain in Susie Brown so Saturday’s opener is definitely going to be a tough test.”
Watch England Women take on Scotland live on RFU.com on Saturday 2 Febuary, ko 2pm.
England team to play Scotland
15 Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
13 Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
12 Amber Reed (Bristol)
11 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
10 Ceri Large (Worcester)
9 Georgina Gulliver (VC) (Lichfield)
1 Kate Newton (Bristol)
2 Emma Croker (Richmond)
3 Roz Crowley (Lichfield)
4 Tamara Taylor (Lichfield)
5 Emily Braund (Lichfield)
6 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)
7 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
8 Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
17 Laura Keates (Worcester)
18 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
19 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
20 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
21 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
22 Sally Tuson (Bristol)
23 Fiona Pocock (Richmond)
England’s Six Nations fixtures
*February 2, 2013: England v Scotland, KO 2pm Esher RFC – Live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive
February 9, 2013: Ireland v England, KO 2pm, Ashbourne RFC
**February 23, 2013: England v France, KO 7:20pm, Twickenham Stadium – Live on BBC
*March 9, 2013: England v Italy, KO 1pm, Esher RFC – live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive
March 17, 2013: Wales v England, KO 2:30pm, Aberavon RFC
*Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk
**Free entry to Twickenham Stadium following the men’s RBS Six Nations match