Source: INPHO

France v England – A Look forward

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So now we know. Here are the two teams:


15 Jessy Trémoulière
14 Caroline Boujard
13 Camille Boudaud

12 Gabrielle Vernier

11 Marine Ménager

10 Caroline Drouin

9 Pauline Bourdon

1 Annaëlle Deshayes 

2 Agathe Sochat

3 Clara Joyeux

4 Lénaïg Corson

5 Safi N’Diaye

6 Marjorie Mayans

7 Gaëlle Hermet (captain)

8 Romane Ménager
16 Caroline Thomas

17 Dhia Maylis Traoré

18 Chloé Pelle

19 Céline Ferer

20 Julie Annery

21 Laure Sansus

22 Morgane Peyronnet

23 Ian Jason

15 Sarah McKenna (Saracens 25 caps)
14 Abby Dow (Wasps 6 caps) 

13 Emily Scarratt (vice-captain) (Loughborough Lightning 82 caps)

12 Zoe Harrison (Saracens 17 caps)

11 Jess Breach (Harlequins 7 caps)

10 Katy Daley-McLean (Loughborough Lightning 107 caps)

9 Leanne Riley (Harlequins 31 caps)

1 Hannah Botterman (Saracens 14 caps) 

2 Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning 21 caps)

3 Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears 28 caps)

4 Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury 13 caps)

5 Abbie Scott  (Harlequins 40 caps)

6 Sarah Beckett (Harlequins 10 caps)

7 Marlie Packer (Saracens 68 caps)

8 Sarah Hunter (captain) (Loughborough Lightning 116 caps)
16 Heather Kerr (DMP Sharks 19 caps)

17 Ellena Perry (Gloucester-Hartpury 7 caps)

18 Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins 10 caps)

19 Poppy Cleall (Saracens 33 caps)

20 Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens 69 caps)

21 Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury 47 caps)

22 Emily Scott (Harlequins 32 caps) 

23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors 44 caps) 846 caps

This English side is much as expected, except that Abby Dow’s outstanding form for Wasps has got her the nod over Lydia Thompson.

Of the squad of 23 that experienced the last contest in France (17-18 in Grenoble in front of 17,440 flag-wavers, if you need reminding), a mere nine survive, including Dow who scored the first try to quieten the crowd for an instant. It will be a first chance for them to see the newly-crowned World Player of the Year and compare her with their very own of last year, Jessy Trémoulière, a local lass.

They will also get their first glimpse of two youngsters who have been creating waves, Hannah Botterman and Jess Breach.

French rugby structures take some working out. There’s a Sevens tournament coming up this weekend at Elche in Spain. France’s squad includes at least one name, Julie Annery, who also appears on the roster for the Crunch! While the 15s squad welcomes back several players from Sevens, others like Emma Coudert have moved the other way.

Romane Ménager says she prefers the England clashes because she knows she’s up against a great opposition. Caroline Drouin thinks it’s important to be able to play the big teams away from the Six Nations and World Cup. These games are always immensely tight.

The two front rows must be amongst the youngest ever to represent their nations. The French back five look formidable with the return of Mayans and Corson. The link is strengthened with the return of Drouin to partner Bourdon. She by the way has twice been nominated for World Player of the Year. Perhaps it will be third time lucky for her.

A central part of France’s strategy is to test themselves against the best. A couple of years ago they were playing Italy and Spain during the autumn programme. Since then they have faced the Black Ferns twice and now the Red Roses appear twice on their menu. For the first time New Zealand have invited them over to tour the country next year. No-one can doubt their high seriousness.

They have undertaken a 10-day programme of training to prepare for the two Crunches in Clermont and Exeter. The head coach, Samuel Cherouk, speaks of ‘more effort, more sacrifices’ in the efforts to rise to the top of the tree.

They will be backed by a crowd estimated at over 15,000. An evening practice session at nearby Romagnat attracted a considerable gate too. The tension is palpable.


Amidst all the kerfuffle surrounding Saracens and their alleged improper funding, no word yet about any possible effect on Saracens women. Unlike their menfolk with nine representatives in the World Cup squad, the women could muster only six for the French encounter.o