England Women's National Academy will play Canada's Maple Leafs in two tests, starting tonight at Esher.
For both sides, the squads are effectively a combination of players who would be considered at "A" level and current or recent U20s players, with both squads shorn of almost all of their top sevens talent who are away in Dubai.
As part of the Women’s development pathway, the English National Academy side includes current senior players – including Latoya Mason, Lotte Clapp and Justine Lucas who all featured in England’s autumn tests - alongside up and coming talent.
“The National Academy Programme aims to bridge the gap into senior international rugby” said Nicky Ponsford, Head of Performance.
“We have an ever strengthening U20 programme but there is a big gap from there to a full cap so this programme is designed to support individual players with their development. The games give an opportunity for players to practice the skills they have been working on and also provides an opportunity for a number of players who have been performing really well in club games to be seen against really good quality international competition”
Meanwhile eight members of Canada’s summer Women’s Rugby Super Series squad have been named in the Maple Leafs side for the game.
Cindy Nelles will captain the side with DaLeaka Menin, Tyson Beukeboom, Camile Provencal-Aube, Chelsea Guthrie, Jess Neilson, Alex Tessier and Natasha Smith all receiving starts too. Lori Josephson is named to the bench.
The other seven starters named by head coach Francois Ratier have yet to represent Canada at the Senior Women’s level. Tuesday’s game.
“The Maple Leafs is a transition between the U20 and Senior Women’s team,” Ratier said. “It’s a development team so every player will have a chance to play.
“It’s also an opportunity for older players to develop their leadership and share their experience with the younger players.”
“We are here to improve our contact skills so all our sessions are full contact and under pressure,” Ratier said. “So far the players have responded really well.
“The culture in the team is really good and the younger players have found their place among the others. Our leadership group is doing a good job and all players are involved on and off field. We’re now looking forward to playing and competing.”
Tickets are available on the gate at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
England National Academy v Canada Maple Leafs, Esher Rugby, Tuesday December 1 (kick-off 7pm) and Saturday December 5 (kick-off 2pm)
England National Academy
Sydney Gregson (Bristol); Debs Fleming (Saracens), Rachel Lund (Worcester), Lauren Cattell (Saracens), Lotte Clapp (Saracens); Latoya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park), Bianca Blackburn (Worcester); Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park), Lark Davies (Worcester), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Zoe Saynor (Richmond), Courtney Gill (Worcester), Poppy Cleall (Saracens), Abbie Walker (Worcester), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park)
Clara Nielson (Bristol), Vickii Cornborough (Richmond), Bee Dawson (Wasps), Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park), Poppy Leitch (Bristol), Leanne Riley (Richmond), Natasha Jones (Lichfield), Lucy Demaine (Whitland), Holly Myers (Richmond)
Canada’s Maple Leafs Game 1 Roster vs. England ‘A’
1. Demi Stamatakis (SFU) Vancouver, BC
2. Kristy Sargent (Lep Tigers) Edmonton, AB
3. DaLeaka Menin (Hornets) Vulcan, AB
4. Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON
5. Camille Provençal-Aube (Abénakis et CRQ), Sherbrooke, QC
6. Fabiola Forteza (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
7. Katie Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON
8. Cindy Nelles, captain (Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON
9. Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB
10. Jess Neilson (UVic) Vancouver, BC
11. Emmanuela Jada (Guelph Redcoats) Guelph, ON
12. Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC
13. Natasha Smith (Barrhaven Scottish) Ottawa, ON
14. Frédérique Rajotte (Sainte Anne de Bellevue RFC) Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC
15. Irene Patrinos (Hull Volant), Mississauga, ON
16. Brittany Priddle, Badjeros, ON
17. Simone Savary (Ottawa Gees Gees), Brampton, ON
18. Chelsey Minter (Velox Valkyries) Sydney, NS
19. Janai Haupapa Calgary, AB
20. Gabrielle Senft (UVic) Regina, SK
21. Lori Josephson (Aurora Barbarians) Beaverton, ON
22. Mackenzie Higgs (Aurora Barbarians) Aurora, ON
23. Amanda Williams (Calgary Hornets) Souris, MB