Source: INPHO

Super-heavyweight title bout – Part Three

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The England squad

The following players have the privilege of being named in Simon Middleton’s final team selection:

15. Ellie Kildunne
14. Abby Dow
13. Helena Rowland
12. Tatyana Heard
11. Claudia MacDonald
10. Holly Aitchison
9. Lucy Packer
1. Hannah Botterman
2. Lark Davies
3. Sarah Bern
4. Zoe Aldcroft
5. Sarah Beckett
6. Sadia Kabeya
7. Marlie Packer (captain)
8. Alex Matthews


16. Connie Powell
17. Mackenzie Carson
18. Maud Muir
19. Poppy Cleall
20. Morwenna Talling
21. Natasha Hunt
22. Amber Reed
23. Jess Breach

All of England can breathe a sigh of relief to see names reappearing, not least the skipper, Hannah Botterman and Helena Rowland.

All three are capable of playing a leading role in retaining the championship for another year. But we have to accept that Packer and Botterman may be hauled off the pitch earlier than we would wish. Even Medical Magicians have their limits.

Another major boost is to see Poppy Cleall’s name posted. Though I’d always prefer to see her starting an England game, she’s just she’s just the sort of player the opposition don’t want to have stepping on to the paddock, as their legs feel the strain of avoiding cramp on HQ’s lush turf.

Once more the bench takes on its look of enviable strength.

The intriguing decisions concern the No 9 shirt, where Lucy Packer is found the better prospect of dealing with France’s main menace, Pauline Bourdon, rather than Mo Hunt. Then Rowland’s return means that Lagi Tuima not only cedes her place to her, but misses out completely. It might well be that the management is as concerned about the Red Roses’ kicking skills as the rest of the nation.

In the Ireland match Sarah Beckett convinced everyone of her ability to bolster the second row armament, a position she is less familiar with.

A Little Background

It’s exactly twenty years since the (not yet) Red Roses first played France at HQ for the first time. No better birthday party could be imagined.

For those who see another English win as inevitable, here’s a timely reminder: ten years ago another crunch took place there. Result: England 20 France 30.

More stats (aka lies, d—-d lies and …)

A match v match comparison shows England ahead, for example: Wales 3 England 59; France 39 Wales 14. And England 39 tries, France 27.

On the face of it, for all France’s obvious talent they still don’t score as heavily as the current champions. England have scored 64 points more than them (though the hosts have had the advantage of one more home game.

We await news of France’s squad with some excitement.