Five of the Six Nations teams, plus Spain, Sweden, Canada, Germany and (for the first time ever) the Barbarians are in action over the next few weeks.
Spain and Scotland meet this weekend (Photo: SRU)
International rugby is back this month with international teams playing in eleven matches. Including games played at the end of last month, 12 international teams will have taken the field in 15 games, including seven full test matches.
The story so far…
Spain v Scotland (Majadahonda, Madrid, Sunday 5th November, 11.30 GMT)
Scotland return to test rugby having missed out on the World Cup, and take on the team that ensured they’d spend the summer at home – Spain.
Scotland are taking the game very seriously, calling up their four professional players, including the Lille trio Jade Konkel, Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson, plus Edinburgh University’s Sarah Law and Lisa Martin, fresh from her recent move to DMP Sharks.
Spain include 12 World Cup players, along with 8 new caps in a squad lacking most of its sevens stars, as well as experienced players Ángela del Pan, Vanesa Rial, Carmen Perez and Aora Gonzalez who have all announced their retirement.
María Ahís, Iera Echebarría, Isabel Rico, Marina Bravo, Anne Fernández de Corres, Lourdes Alameda, Laura Delgado, Paula Medín, Uribarri Barrutieta, Bàrbara Pla, Saoia Jaurena and Jeanina Vinueza return from the World Cup. Of the new caps, Ana Puig, Olivia Fresneda, Carmen Rodera and María García have played for Spain at sevens, while Amanda Prado, Beatríz Dominguez, Judith Vélez and Arantzazu Olabarría pull on the national shirt for the first time. The same squad will also play against France later in the month.
Spain squad: María Ahis (Olímpico de Pozuelo); Iera Echebarria (Olímpico de Pozuelo); Sabina Hurtado (Olímpico de Pozuelo); Amanda Prados (Olímpico de Pozuelo); Isabel Rico (Olímpico de Pozuelo); Marina Bravo (Cisneros); Anne Fernández De Corres (Cisneros); Lourdes Alameda (XV Sanse Scrum); Beatríz Dominguez (XV Sanse Scrum); Claudia Alonso (XV Hortaleza); Olivia Fresneda (Ingenieros Industriales); Carmen Rodera (Majadahonda); Lucía Díaz (Majadahonda); María García (Majadahonda); Alexandra Castillón (INEF Barcelona); María Losada (INEF Barcelona); Judith Velez (GEiEG); Elisabet Martínez (GEiEG); Anna Puig (UE Santboiana); Laura Delgado (CRAT A Coruña); Paula Medin (CRAT A Coruña); Uribarri Barrutieta (Getxo); Arantzazu Olabarria (Getxo); Bárbara Pla (Getxo); Saioa Jaurena (AS Bayonne); Jeanina Vinueza (Saracens)
Scotland squad: Sarah Bonar, (Loughbourgh Lightning), Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County), Katie Dougan (Edinburgh University), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Jade Konkel (Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvios), Mags Lowish (Loughbourgh Lightning), Rachel Malcolm (Loughbourgh Lightning), Deborah McCormack (Harlequins), Louise McMillian (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Siobhan McMillan (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lana Skeldon (Watsonians), Lindsey Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Nuala Deans (Wasps), Abi Evans (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lauren Harris (Edinburgh University), Sarah Law (Edinburgh University/Murrayfield Wanderers), Rhona Lloyd (Edinburgh University), Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning) Liz Musgrove (Edinburgh University), Helen Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers), Chloe Rollie (Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvios), Hannah Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lisa Thomson (Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvios)
Referee: Marie Lematte (France)
Scotland will play against Wales in a “competitive training fixture” during at the end of a training camp (16-19 November).
Wales Development XV v UK Armed Forces (Cardiff Arms Park, 8th November, 7.30pm)
For the second year, Wales' main Autumn game will be against the UK Armed Forces, who will include Welsh flanker Sian Williams as captain of their team. The game takes place on the same ground as the first ever recorded women's rugby match - Cardiff v Newport - played 100 years ago on 16th Dember 1917, also in support of the troops then fighting in France.
"At the time, the minds of the players would have been on the 245,000 dead, wounded or missing allied casualties lost at the battle of Passchendaele that summer," Sian Williams says. "There is a lot of history behind this fixture as the game was played to raise money for War Charities, just as ours is today. The beauty of the game is that we can go head-to-head against a fierce opposition and still unite at the end and remember what really matters."
Also in the UKAF line-up is Wales centre Gemma Rowland (Army) and England hooker Amy Cokayne (RAF), both of whom were recently in action at the Women's Rugby World Cup.
Wales: To be announced
UKAF squad: Senior Aircraftswoman, S, Williams, RAF (UKAF Captain); RN Lieutenant, C, Fredrickson, RN; Midshipwoman, O, Critchley, RN; Captain, G, Rowland, Army; Captain E, Mills, Army; Captain, A, Hardy, Army; Corporal, B, Dawson, Army; Corporal, L, Dodd, Army; Corporal, J, Mullen, Army; Corporal, C, Snead, Army; Lance Corporal,, H, Silcox, Army; Lance Corporal, S, Batley, Army; Lance Corporal, M, Claassens, Army; Gunner, J, McAuley, Army; Private, S, Mimnagh, Army; Private, E, Gattlin, Army; Flight Lieutenant, C, Siczowa, RAF; Flight Lieutenant, K, Simmons, RAF; Flying Officer, E, Tadman, RAF; Flying Officer, S, Gale, RAF; Corporal, M, Waghorn, RAF; Senior Aircraftswoman, R, Walton, RAF; Senior Aircraftswoman, C, Murray, RAF; Corporal, A, Newey, RAF; Aircraftswoman, A, Cokayne, RAF; Aircraftswoman, L, Nye, RAF
Munster v Barbarians (Thomond Park, 10th November, 4.45pm).
See this article for details about this historic match
Spain v France (Estadio Pedro Escartin, Guadalajara, 11th November)
With France not calling up their sevens players, and also missing three leading players who will be with the Barbarians the day before, this is an interesting chance to look at a young French team with many faces likely to become more familiar over the next four years.
Nonetheless at least half of the squad has signfiicant test experience, with Romane Menager returning after her impressive World Cup performances, and the familiar sight of Safi N'diaye likely to be playing at no. 8. Young Pauline Bourdon also gets a chance to return at scrum-half after impressing in France's Six Nations win in 2017.
Spain squad: as v Scotland
France squad: Cyrielle Banet (Montpellier RC); Caroline Boujard (Montpellier RC); Pauline Bourdon (AS Bayonnaise); Brandy Cazorla (Stade Toulousain); Emma Coudert (ASM Romagnat Rugby); Annaëlle Deshaye (AS Rouen Université Club); Julie Duval (Ovalie Caennaise); Céline Ferer (AS Bayonnaise); Maëlle Filopon (FC Grenoble Amazones); Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Rugby Féminin); Emeline Gros (FC Grenoble Amazones); Gaëlle Hermet (Stade Toulousain); Ian Jason (Stade Toulousain); Clara Joyeux (Blagnac Rugby Féminin); Romane Menager (Lille MRCV); Léa Murie (Stade Bordelais ASPTT); Safi N'diaye (Montpellier RC); Elise Pignot (ASM Romagnat Rugby); Agathe Sochat (Montpellier RC); Milena Soloch (Lille MRCV); Charlotte Torres Duxans (Blagnac Rugby Féminin); Dhia Traore (Stade Toulousain); Gabrielle Vernier (Lille MRCV)
British Police v Sweden (Imber Court, London, 17th November, 5pm)
If you are unable to get to see England v Canada in north London on Friday evening, you will be more than welcome at Imber Court in south London on the same evening when Sweden's newly reformed test team play their second autumn "international", having beaten Finland at the end of October. The Swedish squad includes three players based in the UK.
British Police: To be announced
Sweden: Angela Wooley (Uppsala Rugby Football Club); Anna Hecktor (Vanersborg Rugby Klubb); Carina Trinh (Stockholm Exiles Rugby Football Club); Elizabeth Sonnenholzner (Lugi Lions Rugby Club); Ellen Johnsen (Vanersborg Rugby Klubb); Emelie Hellgren (Richmond Rugby Football Club); Emilia Kristiansson (Murrayfield Wandarers Felicia Radovan (Ronneby Rugby Club); Frida Nilsson (Pingvin Rugby Club); Josefin Devine (Uppsala Rugby Football Club); Karin Lindmark (Stockholm Exiles Rugby Football Club); Lina Engdahl (Stockholm Exiles Rugby Football Club); Linda Karlsson (Stockholm Exiles Rugby Football Club); Maja Framming (Uppsala Rugby Football Club); Maja Meuller (Vdnersborg Rugby Klubb Mican Francke-Ryden (Stockholm Exiles Rugby Football Club); Michelle Johansson (Vanersborg Rugby Klubb Mikaela Korspysz (Stockholm Exiles Rugby Football Club); Olivia Palmgren (Kalmar Sodra Rugby Pomme Corvellec(Malmo Rugby Club); Tove Viksten (Harlequins Ladies Football Club); Victoria Petersson (Kalmar Sodra Rugby); Ylva Schwartz (Kalmar Sodra Rugby)
England v Canada (3 test series, 17-25 November, London)
Just before the final whistle is blown at Imber Court, the first game in a three-test series between England and Canada will kick-off a few miles north. England take on Canada at Allianz Park (17 November), Twickenham Stoop (21 November) and Twickenham (25 November).
Simon Middleton named his squad for the series last week. Although players in the seven squad are not included, her was still able to call upon 18 players from the World Cup in his 28-strong squad, which also includes seven uncapped players - Jo Brown, Jess Breach, Abigail Dow, Zoe Harrison, Ellie Kildunne, Caity Mattinson and Lagi Tuima.
Canada's main change is that of coach, following the depature of Francois Ratier. Pending a permanent appointment Sandro Fiorino has been named interim coach for the series. Fiorino is not an entirely unknown, however, as he has been assistant coach of Canada's women's sevens team since 2011, helping head coach John Tait and the team win bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. He has also served as head coach of the women's under-20 side. Rugby Canada says it will review the entire women's program after the England tour and decide on a full-time coach - and Florino has said he would be interested in the job.
There will be some changes from the World Cup with players such as Kelly Russell and Karen Paquin announcing their retirement. The final squad has yet to be announced, but Fiorino, 45, says he expects to be taking a "very young, eager but inexperienced team" to England.
Interestingly, one of his specialties is talent identification. Fiorino spotted Ghislaine Landry a dozen years ago at a high school tournament, so his squad could include some unexpected names.
England squad:Forwards: Sarah Bern (Gloucester-Hartpury Women's RFC), Jo Brown (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond FC), Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies), Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies), Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies), Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries), Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Justine Lucas (Wasps FC Ladies), Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol Ladies), Marlie Packer (Saracens Women), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies).
Backs: Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies), Jess Breach (Harlequins Ladies), Charlotte Clapp (Saracens Women), Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abigail Dow (Wasps FC Ladies), Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women), Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury Women's RFC), Caity Mattinson (Bristol Ladies), Amber Reed (Bristol Ladies), Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies), Lagi Tuima (Bristol Ladies), Danielle Waterman (Wasps FC Ladies).
Referees: (17th November): Alhambra Nievas (Spain); (21st November): Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa); (25th November): Tim Baker (Hong Kong)
Scotland XV v Wales XV (Venue to be announced, 19th November)
As mentioned above, Scotland and Wales are due to meet in an unofficial training fixture at the end of a joint camp, held in Scotland. No further detailshave been announced yet.
Italy v France (Biella, 19th November)
After being the only European World Cup team to not have any autumn internationals last season, Italy return to the fray this year with a home game against France.
Italy have yet to announce their team, but it could be significantly different to that which played in Ireland after the retirement of so many players from that squad.
The French squad is expected to be similar to that for their game against Spain (see above).
Referee: Sara Cox (England)
Germany v British Army (Heidelberg, 6th December)
The autumn international season ends in Germany this year with the recently revived German team seeking to reverse their narrow 25-29 defeat in January. Squads have yet to be announced.