The French management has named a much stronger training squad than last weekend to meet the Red Roses in London:
1. Audrey ABADIE (Blagnac)
2. Rkya AIT LAHBIB (Montpellier)
3. Lise ARRICASTRE (Lons)
4. Cyrielle BANET (Montpellier)
5. Rose BERNADOU (Montpellier)
6. Axelle BERTHOUMIEU (Blagnac)
7. Coralie BERTRAND (Chilly Mazarin)
8. Caroline BOUJARD (Montpellier)
9. Pauline BOURDON (Bayonne)
10. Annaëlle DESHAYES (Lyon OU)
11. Coumba DIALLO (Stade Français)
12. Caroline DROUIN (Stade Rennais)
13. Madoussou FALL (Bobigny)
14. Manae FELEU (Grenoble)
15. Céline FERER (Stade Toulousain)
16. Maëlle FILOPON (Stade Toulousain)
17. Émeline GROS (Montpellier)
18. Gaëlle HERMET (Stade Toulousain)
19. Shannon IZAR (FFR)
20. Clara JOYEUX (Blagnac)
21. Fiona LECAT (Stade Toulousain)
22. Marjorie MAYANS (Blagnac)
23. Marine MENAGER (Montpellier)
24. Romane MENAGER (Montpellier)
25. Safi N’DIAYE (Montpellier)
26. Carla NEISEN (FFR)
27. Chloé PELLE (FFR)
28. Morgane PEYRONNET (Montpellier)
29. Élise PIGNOT (Romagnat)
30. Yanna RIVOALEN (Lille MRCV)
31. Laure SANSUS (Stade Toulousain)
32. Agathe SOCHAT (Montpellier)
33. Milena SOLOCH (Lille MRCV)
34. Caroline THOMAS (Romagnat)
35. Mouna TOURE (Romagnat)
36. Laure TOUYE (Montpellier)
37. Dhia Maïlys TRAORE (Stade Toulousain)
38. Jessy TREMOULIERE (Romagnat)
39. Jade ULUTULE (Stade Rennais)
40. Gabrielle VERNIER (Blagnac)
It bears little resemblance to the group originally posted for the autumn series. It is now to an enormous total of 40, but at once we spot the return of major figures, including – up front – Lise Arricastre, Safi N’Diaye and Romane Ménager; out behind Cyrielle Banet, Jessy Trémoulière and Caroline Boujard.
Add to them important but less familiar names like Madoussou Fall and Clara Joyeux and you see the makings of a side quite capable of giving England an uncomfortable noon-day.
Against that we have to accept that they have come up short against their favourite opposition both home and away since 2018. There has to be a huge psychological boost for them to overcome the memories of six defeats. Even as great a player as Pauline Bourdon looked very mortal as she appeared off the bench in Grenoble.
That must be partly due to the outstanding form of Laure Sansus, now very much France’s number one choice at scrum-half and the main source of line-breaks in the team’s systems.
If France start off with their strongest possible line-up (experience + current form) and England opt for giving everyone a decent chance, then the outcome could yet be a surprise.
Once again the Red Roses will attract an audience as large as the men’s team. Sadly it won’t benefit the RFU’s treasure-chest.