All the team news as we get it for round three of the women's 6 Nations this weekend.
Scotland v Ireland, Saturday February 12, Lasswade, KO 14.00
This match not only marks the midpoint of this season's championship but also the 20th anniversary of Scotland Women's first ever fixture, also against Irish opposition, on Valentine's Day 1993 which the Scots won 10-0.
The Scotland side sees lock Becca Parker move from the bench to the starting XV and back rower Kelly Shields coming on to the bench for potentially her debut cap. Head coach Karen Findlay is under no illusions as to the strength of this weekend's opposition: "Ireland had a fantastic win at home against England and undoubtedly, given the rugby they have played, are deserving of sitting top of the table. They've been building season on season to achieve that kind of result, so fair play to them.”
Ireland Coach Philip Doyle has kept faith with the starting XV and replacements that overcame England in their last outing of the championship a fortnight ago. Speaking ahead of the game, Doyle said:
"We are really looking forward to this weekend, it’s all about meeting the standards we set out against England. We have named the same XV as we are looking for consistency now to our game."
Scotland: 15 Steph Johnston (RHC Cougars), 14 Annabel Sergeant (Richmond), 13 Sarah Dixon (RHC Cougars), 12 Lisa Ritchie (Carlisle), 11 Megan Gaffney (Hillhead Jordanhill), 10 Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars), 9 Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars), 1 Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), 2 Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers), 3 Tracey Balmer (Worcester), 4 Lindsay Wheeler (Richmond), 5 Becca Parker (Hillhead Jordanhill), 6 Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill), 7 Tess Forsberg (Richmond), 8 Susie Brown (c) (Richmond)
Substitutes: 16 Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers), 17 Suzanne McKerlie-Hex (Murrayfield Wanderers), 18 Nikki McLeod (Morgan), 19 Bridget Millar-Mills (Worcester), 20 Kelly Shields (Murrayfield Wanderers), 21 Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers) 22 Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers), 23 Leanne Neary (RHC Cougars)
Ireland: 15. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); 14. Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); 13. Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exiles); 12. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster); 11. Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); 10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster); 9. Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exiles); 1. Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt); 2. Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster); 3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster); 4. Sophie Spence (Mowden Park Sharks/Exiles); 5. Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster); 6. Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster); 7. Claire Molloy (Bristol/Exiles); 8. Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Replacements: 16. Stacey-Lea Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster); 17. Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster); 18. Lauren Day (Waterloo/Exiles); 19. Leigh Dargan - (Saracens RFC/Exile); 20. Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster); 21. Amy Davis (Blackrock College/Ulster); 22. Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster); 23. Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster)
England v France, Saturday, February 23, Twickenham Stadium, KO 19.20
England Head coach Gary Street has made three changes to the starting line-up while on the bench the experienced regular skipper Katy McLean comes back in from Sevens duty, having featured sparingly in Houston in the last round of the World Series.
Emma Croker, Rebecca Essex and Lauren Cattell come off the bench to start having impressed late in Ireland last time out. Croker replaces Victoria Fleetwood at hooker, Essex comes into the second-row in place of Rowena Burnfield and Lauren Cattell will start at fullback with Kay Wilson moved to wing. . Lichfield No. 8 Sarah Hunter will once again captain England with scrum-half La Toya Mason named as vice-captain. The game is being shown live on the BBC Red Button.
For France, there are a number of significant changes. As predicted the front row is a complete change from Wales, with Hélène Ezanno and Christelle Chobet both starting at prop, as well as Laëtitia Salles at hooker.
However, less expected is the switch at 10 where Sandrine Agricole starts in place of Jessy Tremouliere - despite the former's 20 points in the first half against Wales. Caroline Ladagnous also remains at full-back. Agricole is likely to take over the kicking duties, but is not as strong or reliable in this department as Tremouliere or Aurelie Bailon, whose absence through a broken thumb continues to be a problem for the French.
"Jessy Trémoulière did not follow the guidelines against the Welsh", coach Nathalie Amiel is reported as saying, "therefore she will be a substitute on Saturday. She was too selfish, despite her 20 points. In addition, she failed to control her emotions. She is still young and lacks experience - you can get away with such mistakes against Wales, but it will be another matter against England at Twickenham, with all of the pressure."
The result is a team that is experienced but also apprears to show some caution on the part of Christian Galonier - an alternative to Agricole might have been Julie Billes, for example - a young but highly rated specialist fly-half. The result is a starting team whose shape is similar to that that played at Worcester two years ago, when the absence of a strong kicker capabale of clearing the lines and relieveing pressure proved costly. By avoiding gambling with youth France are running a real risk this could happen again.
However if the young French backs get a chance to run they could be exciting. Jade Le Pesq in particular has been a great addition to the backline, with tries in both of her games to date. Notes on the French squad
England: 15 Lauren Cattell (Saracens), 14 Kay Wilson (Bristol), 13 Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), 12 Amber Reed (Bristol), 11 Sally Tuson (Bristol), 10 Ceri Large (Worcester), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps) (VC), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond) 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Tamara Taylor (Lichfield) 6 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 7 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (C) (Lichfield)
16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Laura Keates (Worcester), 18 Roz Crowley (Lichfield), 19 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 20 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield) 21 Georgina Gulliver (Lichfield), 22 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) 23 Emily Scott (Thurrock)
France: 15. Caroline Ladagnous (Lons); 14. Jade Le Pesq (Rennes); 13. Elodie Poublan (Montpellier); 12. Lucille Godiveau (Rennes); 11. Elodie Guiglion (Usap); 10. Sandrine Agricole (Rennes); 9. Marie-Alice Yahe (Usap) (Capitain); 1. Hélène Ezanno (Rennes) ; 2. Laëtitia Salles (La Valette); 3. Christelle Chobet (Lons) ; 4. Sandra Rabier (Ovalie Caennaise); 5. Nadai Marine De (Montpellier); 6. Coumba Tombe Diallo (Bobigny); 7. Laetitia Grand (Lons); 8. Safi N’diaye (Montpellier)
Replacements: 16. Gaëlle Mignot (Montpellier) ; 17. Aurélie Vernhet (Montpellier) ; 18. Elodie Portaries (Montpellier) ; 19. Assa Koïta (Bordeaux) ; 20. Manon Andre (Saint Orens); 21. Jessy Tremouliere (Romagnat) ; 22. Marjorie Mayans (Saint Orens); 23. Julie Billes (Usap)
Wales v Italy, Sunday February 24, Stadio Pacevecchia, Benevento
This is a huge clash in terms of World Cup qualification. Wales are yet to register a victory in this season’s campaign while Italy have been the surprise package, defeating France and Scotland to surge into second place in the points table. Wales coach Rhys Edwards has made two changes to the backline which lost heavily in France.
Sea View’s Rafique Taylor will get her first start for her country on the wing, replacing Caryl James while Laura Prosser is preferred to Amy Day at scrum half. Influential flanker Sioned Harries suffered an ankle injury against France which has forced a reshuffle in the back row. Experienced campaigner Catrina Nicholas returns as blindside flanker with Nia Davies moving to the openside while captain Rachel Taylor replaces Vicky Owens at No 8. The only other change is in the front row where Jennifer Davies gets the nod ahead of Megan York at loosehead prop
Wales: 15 Dyddgu Hywel (Caernarfon), 14 Rafique Taylor (Sea View), 13 Elen Evans (Waterloo), 12 Rebecca De Filippo (Cardiff Quins), 11 Philippa Tuttiett (Cardiff Quins), 10 Elinor Snowsill (Bristol), 9 Laura Prosser (Pontyclun), 1 Jenny Davies (Waterloo), 2 Lowri Harries (Neath Athletic), 3 Catrin Edwards (Cardiff Quins), 4 Gemma Hallett (Pontyclun), 5 Shona Powell Hughes (Neath Athletic), 6 Catrina Nicholas (Cardiff Quins), 7 Nia Davies (Cardiff Met), 8 Rachel Taylor (Bristol - Capt)
Substitutes: 16 Carys Phillips (Cardiff Met), 17 Bethan Howell (Seven Sisters), 18 Megan York (Blaenau Gwent), 19 Vicky Owens (Pontyclun), 20 Delyth Davies (Cardiff Met), 21 Amy Day (Unattached), 22 Leila Johns (Unattached), 23 Caryl James (Cardiff Quins)
Italy squad: Ilaria Arrighetti (Rugby Monza 1949), Debora Ballarini (Mustang Rugby Pesaro), Sara Barattin (Rugby Casale), Melissa Bettoni (Rugby Sassenage Isere), Giuliana Bell (Red & Blue Rugby), Vanessa Chindamo (Rugby Monza 1949), Maria Grazia Cioffi (Red & Blue Rugby), Michela Este (Benetton Treviso), Marta Ferrari (Sitam Riviera Del Brenta), Manuela Furlan (Benetton Treviso), Lucia Gai (Sitam Riviera Del Brenta), Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza 1949) (c), Cristina Molic (Sitam Riviera Del Brenta), Veronica Schiavon (Sitam Riviera Del Brenta), Flavia Severin (Benetton Treviso), Michela Sillari (Rugby Colorno), Sofia Stefan (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Michela Tondinelli (Benetton Treviso), Alice Trevisan (Sitam Riviera Del Brenta), Mary Dorothy Veronese (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Sara Zanon (Benetton Treviso), Cecilia Zublena (Rugby Sassenage Isere)