The online home of Women's Rugby

Rowland handed 10 shirt

The England team to play France at Stade des Alpes, Grenoble on Saturday [KO 1.15pm GMT, live on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer] has been named. 

The major news in the team is the omission of Katy Daley-Mclean, who is being rested so that Simon Middleton can take a look at Helena Rowland in the key position of number 10. 

The Loughborough Lightning player has been capped once and this will be a major test of her credentials in a relatively young looking England back-line.  She has been a regular in an England 7s shirt, but won her first 15s cap against Italy in the recent Grand Slam game. 

Daley-Mclean has been a mainstay for England for over a decade, and while Zoe Harrison has been given her opportunity there too, Rowland gets a go with Harrison named at 12. 

Sarah Hunter has not recovered from her injury so Emily Scarratt holds onto the captaincy, while elsewhere Worcester Warriors prop Laura Keates could earn her first cap since March 2017 having been named on the bench. 

Amber Reed will miss the trip after an assessment on an injury sustained last weekend. 

Middleton said: “We’re really looking forward to heading out to France for what will be another competitive game.

“We see this fixture as a big opportunity for some of our younger players to play away in France, which is always one of our toughest games. Given our two 2021 Six Nations games against France and Italy are both at home, this is a big opportunity to compete against top quality opposition away from home ahead of next year’s World Cup.

“Helena Rowland has really impressed since her return to XVs with Loughborough and deserves her chance. We’re really looking forward to seeing her link up with Zoe.

“We know what Katy Daley-Mclean can do on the big stage and the presence she brings and see this as an opportunity for others.

“It’s been great to have Sarah Hunter back training with us this week. We’re managing her return carefully and won’t take any risks.
 
“Last but certainly not least, we are really pleased our two autumn games against France will be shown on BBC Two and our aim is to put on a show for everyone supporting from home.”

The France team has not yet been named but the game comes after a turbulent few weeks for them after numerous players and staff got Covid-19 which resulted in their game against Ireland being cancelled. That game was then cancelled with the Six Nations deciding to prematurely end the tournament. 

England team to play France:  Ellie Kildunne, Jess Breach, Emily Scarratt, Zoe Harrison, Abby Dow, Helena Rowland, Leanne Riley, Vickii Cornborough, Amy Cokayne, Shaunagh Brown, Abbie Ward, Poppy Cleall, Alex Matthews, Marlie Packer, Sarah Beckett 
 
Replacements: Lark Davies, Detysha Harper, Laura Keates, Morwenna Talling, Harriet Millar-Mills, Claudia MacDonald, Kelly Smith, Megan Jones