England Name Team for Italy Match

The Red Roses have named their team ahead of their opening Six Nations match against Italy on Sunday as they look to defend their crown.

In the backs, the experience of fly half Katy Daley-McLean and centre Rachael Burford is complimented by the fresh faces of Ellie Kildunne and Abigail Dow, who both made their international debuts against Canada in the autumn. Danielle Waterman starts on the wing and Lauren Cattell, who last featured for the Red Roses in 2016, is named at outside centre.

Three centurions are set to start in the forwards – Rocky Clark, Tamara Taylor and captain Sarah Hunter provide plenty of experience and are key breakdown operators, while prop Sarah Bern, lock Poppy Cleall and flanker Marlie Packer provide strong running options for the Red Roses.

On the bench, the likes of Amy Cokayne and Izzy Noel-Smith will be looking to exploit a tiring Italian defence with their bullocking runs, while Zoe Harrison and Caity Mattinson will want to build on the positive impressions they made in the autumn. Joining them on the bench is Charlotte Pierce, who will win her first international cap if called upon.

The game is live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix.

England Team v Italy @ Stadio Mirabello, Reggio Emilia, Sunday 4 February, KO 17:30 GMT

15. Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury, 3 caps)
14. Abigail Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 2 caps)
13. Lauren Cattell (Saracens Women, 20 caps)
12. Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies, 75 caps)
11. Danielle Waterman (Wasps FC Ladies, 77 caps)
10. Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 94 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies, 16 caps).

1. Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies, 132 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries, 6 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Gloucester-Hartpury, 15 caps)
4. Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies, 24 caps)
5. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 111 caps)
6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 17 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 54 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter © (Loughborough Lightning, 101 caps)

Substitutes

16. Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies, 36 caps)
17. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies, 34 caps)
18. Justine Lucas (Wasps FC Ladies, 28 caps)
19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond FC, 42 caps)
20. Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol Ladies, 38 caps)
21. Caity Mattinson (Bristol Ladies, 3 caps)
22. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 3 caps)
23. Charlotte Pearce (Loughborough Lightning, uncapped)

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The Six Nations is Back!

February – the shortest month of the year it may be, but with Christmas just a distant memory and seemingly no end in sight to the incessant cold and dark, it’s a month few people look forward to (unless your birthday’s in February, in which case, Happy Birthday! Unless you hate your birthday because it reminds you that no matter how much anti-ageing cream you slap on your face, or how much hair dye you desperately smear on your head, there is nothing you can do to stop the relentless, indifferent passage of time and that with every day that passes you’re twenty four hours closer to the cold embrace of death and all you’ve done today is binge watch Friends even though you’ve seen every episode ten times before and it doesn’t even make you laugh any more because you know all the jokes off by heart, but you’ll do anything to temporarily distract yourself from the reality of your bleak existence. In which case, I’m sorry I brought it up).

But fear not, for February is also the month in which the best women’s rugby competition on the planet kicks off. Yes, the Six Nations is back in business, and the Red Roses are aiming for back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

A lot has happened since England beat Ireland on a dreary evening in Dublin to lift the 2017 Six Nations trophy. After beating New Zealand, Australia and Canada in the Tri-Series in June they went to the World Cup as the top-ranked side, but came out second best in the final to their old rivals, the Black Ferns.

After a few key players opted to switch to the Sevens program, Emily Scarratt and Natasha Hunt among them, the Red Roses began the process of rebuilding with a three-Test series against Canada last Autumn. It’s safe to say that they well and truly bounced back from their World Cup disappointment, winning all three games comfortably, blooding plenty of new players and uncovering some future stars of the game.

So, the Red Roses are looking very strong going into this year’s Six Nations, and they will no doubt be aiming to defend their title. But who’s been selected?

The Squad

There are certainly a lot of new faces, and some who made their debuts against Canada in the Autumn. But with stalwarts like Daley-McLean, Waterman, Hunter, Clark and Packer, the Red Roses have a great mix of exuberance and experience.

Backs

Bianca Blackburn (Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC), Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies), Lauren Cattell (Saracens Women), Charlotte Clapp (Saracens Women), Katy Daley-McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abigail Dow (Wasps FC Ladies), Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women), Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC), Caity Mattinson (Bristol Ladies), Charlotte Pearce (Loughborough Lightning), Amber Reed (Bristol Ladies), Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies), Kelly Smith (Gloucester- Hartpury Women’s RFC), Lagi Tuima (Bristol Ladies), Danielle Waterman (Wasps FC Ladies), Rachael Woosey (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks).

Forwards

Sarah Bern (Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC), Jo Brown (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Ladies), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond FC), Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies), Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies), Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies), Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries), Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning), Olivia Jones (Loughborough Lightning), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Poppy Leitch (Bristol Ladies), Justine Lucas (Wasps FC Ladies), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol Ladies), Catherine O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning), Marlie Packer (Saracens Women), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies).

The Fixtures

Italy v England
Sunday 4 February, KO 17:30 GMT @ Stadio Mirabello, Reggio Emilia
Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix

England v Wales
Saturday 10 February, KO 12:30 GMT, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix @ Twickenham Stoop – Tickets available here

Scotland v England
Friday 23 February, KO 19:30 GMT @ Scotstoun, Glasgow
Live Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena via red button

France v England
Saturday 10 March, KO 20:00 GMT @ Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix

England v Ireland
Friday 16 March, KO 17:30 GMT @ Ricoh Arena, Coventry –  Tickets available here
Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix

Who said February was a rubbish month?

Red Roses Name Training Squad ahead of Autumn Test Series against Canada

England Head Coach Simon Middleton has named an extended training squad of forty three players ahead of the Red Roses’ November series against Canada.

The squad will prepare for the Autumn tests with two training matches against South Africa on Wednesday 18th October and Sunday 22nd October, before an Elite Player Squad is named.

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The new Women’s Super Rugby league kicks off this weekend!

Summer’s over, and that means club rugby is back! With a flashy new name and a few new teams, the inaugural women’s Super Rugby season kicks off this weekend and it promises to be a cracker.

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