The online home of Women's Rugby

World Cup: Round One Previews

We look at all the team news ahead of Round One of the Women's Rugby World Cup. 

Read our team by team previews before it all kicks off. England, New ZealandCanadaFranceIrelandAustraliaUSASpainItalyWalesJapanHong Kong

UCD Bowl, 2pm

On a 9-match winning streak, England will be expected to make it 10 when they take on Spain in the opening game of the tournament. 

Simon Middleton has not picked his best team for the opener, using the opportunity to mix and match his squad, and players to watch include centre Meg Jones, who has shown a lot of promise, alongisde nine players making their first World Cup appearances. 

Sarah Hunter leads the side which also includes backs Danielle Waterman and Rachael Burford, who will be making their fourth World Cup appearances, and Katy Mclean, the vastly experienced flyhalf. 

England last played Spain, who are ranked eighth in the world, at the last Women's World Cup in France where they posted a comfortable 45-5 victory in the pool stages.

Spain have only ever beaten England once, all the way back in 2001. That losing streak will hardly break in this match, but Spanish coach Jose Antonio Barrio will know that Spain have the ability to win their other pool games, and a positive performance against the favourites would be a boost. 

Barrio has named an almost full strength side - opting however to leave vice captain Isabel Rico on the bench. In the back line watch out for Barbara Pla and Patricia Garcia who can make something happen from nothing. 

SPAIN: Barbara Pla (Getxo RT); Maria Casado (INEF Barcelona), Amaia Erbina (CR Cisneros), Marina Bravo (CR Cisneros), Iera Echebarria (Olimpico de Pozuelo); Patricia Garcia (FER), Anne Fernandez (CR Cisneros); Saioa Jaurena (Getxo RT), Aroa Gonzalez (INEF Barcelona) (capt), Jeanina Vinueza (Saracens RFC), Berta Garcia (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Maria Ribera (XV Sanse Scrum), Diana Gasso (Gotics RC), Paula Medin (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Elena Redondo (Gent RFC).

Replacements: Isabel Rico (Olimpico de Pozuelo), Isabel Macias (Olimpico de Pozuelo), Rocio Garcia (Lalin RC), Monico Castelo (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Angela del Pan (INEF Barcelona), Maria Ahis (Olimpico de Pozuelo), Vanesa Rial (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Carlota Meliz (XV Sanse Scrum).

ENGLAND: Danielle Waterman (Bristol); Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Megan Jones (Bristol), Rachael Burford (Harlequins), Kay Wilson (Richmond); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Leanne Riley (Harlequins); Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Sarah Bern (Bristol), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Sarah Hunter (Bristol) (capt).

Replacements: Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Poppy Cleall (Bristol), Alex Matthews (Richmond), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Reed (Bristol), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield).

UCD Bowl, 2.45pm

New Zealand have gone for a blend of experience and fresh talent for their opening clash, while Wales unsurprisingly have opted for their strongest possible starting lineup. 

In a game the Black Ferns are clear favourites to win; Fiao'o Fa’amausili leads her side into the opener, appearing in her fifth World Cup. The experience in the pack comes from Eloise Blackwell, the 27-cap lock and Aroha Savage who is named at no 8.  Lock Rebecca Wood, wins just her third cap having impressed head coach Glenn Moore in recent months.

The backline looks exciting with the powerful Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali named at 10 alongside the experienced Kendra Cocksedge,with Kelly Brazier moving to midfield where she is partnered by exciting 21-year-old Stacey Waaka. 

Wales coach Rowland Phillips has opted for the tried and tested in his starting team, while giving two teenagers a place on the bench.  Hooker and captain Carys Phillips leads an experienced pack which includes the outstanding back row trip of Alisha Butchers, Rachel Taylor and Sioned Harries. In the backs , 20-year-old Hannah Jones - one of the standout Wales 7s players this season - starts in midfield

There is a place on the bench for uncapped 17-year-old back rower Lleucu George, whilst hooker Kelsey Jones, who is 18, could also be in line to make her debut for the Wales Women.

Meanwhile Welsh centre Rebecca De Filippo has been ruled out of the tournament following a foot injury suffered in training. She will be replaced by the 18-year-old India Berbillion. 

NEW ZEALAND: Selica Winiata (Manawatu); Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau), Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau); Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali (Counties Manukau), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury); Toka Natua (Waikato), Fiao'o Faamausili (Auckland) (capt), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Rebecca Wood (North Harbour), Charmaine Smith (North Harbour), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau).

Replacements: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties Manukau), Sosoli Talawadua (Waikato), Aotearoa Mata'u (Counties Manukau), Lesley Ketu (Bay of Plenty), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Kristina Sue (Manawatu), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Carla Hohepa (Waikato).

WALES: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets); Elen Evans (RGC), Gemma Rowland (Dragons), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets); Elinor Snowsill (Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (Ospreys) (capt), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Dragons), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (RGC), Sioned Harries (Scarlets).

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Meg York (Dragons), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Sian Moore (Dragons), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Jodie Evans (Scarlets).

UCD Bowl, 4.30pm

There is no form guide for this game, which is possibly the hardest to call on day one. The two teams have met only once - in 2012 when the USA won 34-20 in Rome – and huge amounts of water have flown under Ponte Sant’Angelo since then.

For their first World Cup game for 15 years, Italy have gone with experience including the return of former captain Silvia Gaudino at No 8 after several years away.

"We will face an important challenge in our very first game” Italian coach Andrea Di Giandomenico said when he announced his team. “Against the United States, we expect a very physical game. We will have to be good at playing our game and try to exploit the spaces with speed. We have prepared for the game as well as we know."

If this game had come 12 months ago Italy would have started as favourites, but now both teams come into the game without any test wins for over a year, making the game far closer. Italy undoubtedly score on experience, but the USA are physically a much bigger team and also include some of sevens stars who had an excellent last season.

Italy’s experience may just count in their favour, but this one will go right down to the wire.

In the US line-up prop Tiffany Faaee will captain the side. The entire back row of Sara Parsons, Kate Zackary and Jordan Gray have all spent time on the sevens circuit, indicating perhaps that the US will go for a fast and loose game. 

Head coach Pete Steinberg admits that his overall side is raw. "We're inexperienced, but we're athletic, and we have to grow into the World Cup. The players have worked really hard, and we've had two really good days of practice.”

Italy: 15 Manuela Furlan (Svincolata, 55 caps); 14 Michela Sillari (Harlequins, 34 caps); 13 Maria Grazia Cioffi (Rugby Colorno, 46 caps ); 12 Sofia Stefan (Stade Rennais, 27 caps); 11 Maria Magatti (Rugby Monza 1949, 19 caps); 10 Veronica Schiavon (Yokohama TKM, 78 caps); 9 Sara Barattin (Villorba Rugby, 71 caps) (Captain); 8 Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza 1949, 67 caps); 7 Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Rugby Padova, 21 caps); 6 Isabella Locatelli (Rugby Monza 1949, 11 caps); 5 Alice Trevisan (Rugby Riviera 1975, 39 caps); 4 Flavia Severin (Benetton Treviso, 49 caps); 3 Melissa Bettoni (Stade Rennais, 35 caps); 2 Lucia Cammarano (ASD Rugby Monza 1949, 16 caps); 1 Elisa Cucchiella (Rugby Belve Neroverdi, 62 caps)

Replacements: 16 Marta Ferrari (Stade Rennais, 18 caps); 17 Lucia Gai (Stade Rennais, 47 caps); 18 Sara Tounesi (Rugby Colorno – esordiente); 19 Valeria Fedrighi (Verona Rugby, 2 caps); 20 Ilaria Arrighetti (Stade Rennais, 25 caps); 21 Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Rugby Padova, 16 caps); 22 Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova, 72 caps); 23 Veronica Madia (Rugby Colorno, 3 caps)

United States: USA: Cheta Emba (Women's Eagles Sevens); Naya Tapper (Women's Eagles Sevens), Nicole Heavirland (Women's Eagles Sevens), Sylvia Braaten (Twin Cities Amazons), Kristen Thomas (Women's Eagles Sevens); Kimber Rozier (Scion Sirens), Deven Owsiany (San Diego Surfers); Catie Benson (Life West), Katy Augustyn (Berkeley All Blues), Tiffany Faaee (New York Rugby Club) (capt), Stacey Bridges (Twin Cities Amazons), Alycia Washington (New York Rugby Club), Sara Parsons (Northern Virginia Rugby), Kate Zackary (San Diego Surfers), Jordan Gray (Life West).

Replacements: Samantha Pankey (San Diego Surfers), Nai Reddick (Seattle Saracens), Hope Rogers (San Diego Surfers), Abby Gustaitis (Northern Virginia Rugby), Kristine Sommer (Seattle Saracens), Kayla Canett-Oca (Pennsylvania State University), Alev Kelter (Women's Eagles Sevens), Jessica Javelet (Women's Eagles Sevens).

UCD Bowl, 5.15pm

The tallest team in the World Cup takes on the smallest as 3rd in the world takes on 23rd and however you look at this it’s hard to see anything other than a comfortable win for Canada, the 2014 finalists against a team that has only ever played two full tests outside Asia and came a distant second in the recent Asian championship.

Canada are also full of experience with captain Kelly Russell winning her 49th cap, Andrea Burk back from injury for her 34th, Kayla Mack making her 32nd appearance, while 14 of the team played in the World Cup final in 2014.

We know that Hong Kong will be brave and determined, but in the end a team when a team that recently beat Australia by a 40-point margin takes on one that lost to Japan by 58 you rather feel that this is a game that will see people reaching for the record books.

In the Hong Kong team former Wasps centre Adrienne Garvey and Natasha Olson-Thorne will pair up in the centres, with Laurel Chor Lik-fung and 18-year-old Kelsie Bouttle starting on the bench. Coach Jo Hull recognises them all as assets to the team. 

“Having that strength of Rocky [Garvey] and Tash is key for us, that combination works nicely for us in terms of how we want to play and also their experience together,” Hull said.

“Kelsie is just such a young raw player that I think she might go quite well against Canada.”

Canada: Elissa Alarie (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC); Magali Harvey (Club de Rugby de Quebec), Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians), Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC), Frederique Rajotte (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC); Emily Belchos (Westshore RFC), Lori Josephson (Aurora Barbarians); Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake RFC), Laura Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC), DaLeaka Menin (Calgary Hornets), Kayla Mack (Saskatoon Wild Oats), Latoya Blackwood (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Jacey Grusnick (Barrhaven Scottish), Karen Paquin (Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers), Kelly Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC) (capt).

Replacements: Jane Kirby (Highland Fergus Rugby Club), Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats), Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers), Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC), Cindy Nelles (Belleville Bulldogs), Brianna Miller (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Amanda Thornborough (Westshore RFC), Brittany Waters (Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers).

Hong Kong: 1. WONG Yuen-shan, 2. SO Hoi-ting, Karen, 3. LEE Ka-shun, 4. CHAN Ka-yan, 5. CHOW Mei-nam (captain), 6. CHENG Ka-chi, Christy, 7. CHAN Tsz-ching, Agnes, 8. Amelie SEURE, 9. HO Wai-on, Jessica, 10. Rose HOPEWELL-FONG Siu-lan, 11. CHONG Ka-yan, 12. Natasha OLSON-THORNE, 13. Adrienne GARVEY (vice captain), 14. POON Pak-yan, Aggie, 15. Colleen TJOSVOLD,

Replacements :16. SIU Wing-ni, Winnie, 17. LAU Nga-wun, Tammy, 18. PUN Wai-yan, 19. Christine GORDON, 20. TSANG Sin-yan, 21. MAK Ho-yee, Chloe, 22. Kelsie BOUTTLE, 23. CHOR Lik-fung, Laurel.

UCD Bowl, 7pm

The most anticipated clash of the day gets the prime time slot at 7pm in the opening round. 

The hosts have named a familiar side but with some interesting selections. Hannah Tyrell, the 7s flier, who has impressed in the 15s team on the wing, starts at fullback, where she will replace the injured captain Niamh Briggs and Ireland coach Tom Tierney has also opted to start Ashleigh Baxter at flanker - the former winger has no test experience in the position and has mostly played 7s since the last World Cup. 

Those selections make this an ambitious Irish side which is anchored by the experience up front of players like Claire Molloy, Ailis Egan and Marie Louise O’Reilly.  A positional switches see Paula Fitzpatrick move from the back row to lock

Australia have named two uncapped players in their starting team - Mahalia Murphy and Trilleen Pomare starting. 

Murphy is one of three Australian 7s stars named alongside Shannon Parry (7) and Sharni Williams (12). 

Australia head coach Paul Verrell said: "All the pressure is on them - they're the home nation hosting the World Cup - if we're in front in the last 10 or 15 minutes, all the pressure is on them and that's what we will be aiming to do."

IRELAND:  Hannah Tyrrell; Eimear Considine, Jenny Murphy, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller; Nora Stapleton, Larissa Muldoon; Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Ailis Egan; Paula Fitzpatrick, Marie-Louise Reilly; Ashleigh Baxter, Claire Molloy (Capt), Heather O’Brien.

Replacements: Leah Lyons, Ruth O’Reilly, Ciara O’Connor, Sophie Spence, Ciara Griffin, Nicole Cronin, Katie Fitzhenry, Mairead Coyne.

AUSTRALIA: Samantha Treherne (Queensland/Sunnybank); Nareta Marsters (Queensland/Sunnybank), Kayla Sauvao (Sydney/Parramatta), Sharni Williams (Australia Sevens/ACT/Canberra Royals), Mahalia Murphy (Australia Sevens/NSW/Campbelltown); Trilleen Pomare (Western Australia/Wanneroo), Katrina Barker (NSW Country/Newcastle University); Liz Patu (Queensland/Wests), Cheyenne Campbell (Queensland/Redlands), Hilisha Samoa (Queensland/Brothers), Chloe Butler (South Australia/Parramatta), Millie Boyle (ACT/Canberra Royals), Mollie Gray (Australian Defence Force/NSW/Maitland), Shannon Parry (Australia Sevens/Queensland/Redlands) (capt), Grace Hamilton (Sydney/Sydney University).

Replacements: Emily Robinson (Sydney/Warringah), Violeta Tupuola (ACT/Canberra Royals), Hana Ngaha (Queensland/Sunnybank), Rebecca Clough (Western Australia/Cottesloe), Alisha Hewett (Australian Defence Force/Queensland/GPS), Fenella Hake (Queensland/Redlands), Sarah Riordan (Australian Defence Force/Victoria/Melbourne Unicorns), Ashleigh Hewson (Sydney/Sydney University).

UCD Bowl, 7.45pm

The two previous games between the teams saw France win 62-0 in 1991 and 99-0 in 1994. Though it’s hard to see France failing to win this, the result will far closer than those games. After their recent games in Ireland and Wales any idea that Japan are the typical Asian team of past tournaments may have been set aside, and will be a fascinating chance to see quite how good they are in a fully competitive match against non-Asian opposition.

France are treating Japan with respect by fielding a strong starting XV. Drouin is given a start at 10 in place of normal first-choice Abadie, and Boujard at centre instead of Mayans but both of the senior players are on the bench. Ladagnous also starts at centre with Amedee at full-back.

Japan’s perennial problem is physical size, but they coped with that well against Ireland and can be expected to be similarly competitive in this match.

France: Montserrat Amedee (Montpellier RC/FFR); Elodie Guiglion (FFR), Caroline Ladagnous (AC Bobigny 93/FFR), Elodie Poublan (Montpellier RC), Caroline Boujard (Montpellier RC); Caroline Drouin (Stade Rennais), Yanna Rivoalen (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois); Annaëlle Deshayes (Ovalie Caennaise), Gaëlle Mignot (Montpellier RC) (capt), Julie Duval (Ovalie Caennaise), Céline Ferer (AS Bayonne), Lenaïg Corson (Stade Rennais/FFR), Julie Annery (AC Bobigny 93), Romane Menager (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois), Safi N'Diaye (Montpellier RC).

Replacements: Caroline Thomas (ASM Romagnat), Lise Arricastre (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées), Patricia Carricaburu (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées), Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin), Marjorie Mayans (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin/FFR), Audrey Abadie (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin), Carla Neisen (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin), Chloé Pelle (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois/FFR).

Japan: Mayu Shimizu (Nippon Sport Science Univ); Eriko Hirano (Yokohama TKM), Iroha Nagata (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Makiko Tomita (Setagaya Ladies), Honoka Tsutsumi (Nippon Sport Science Univ); Minori Yamamoto (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Moe Tsukui (The Second HS, Tokyo University of Agriculture); Makoto Ebuchi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ/Tokyo Phoenix RC), Seina Saito (Pearls) (capt), Saki Minami (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Aoi Mimura (Yokohama TKM), Ayano Sakurai (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Yuki Sue (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Ayaka Suzuki (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave (Arukas Queen Kumagaya).

Replacements: Misaki Suzuki (Tokyo Phoenix RC), Mizuho Kataoka (Yokohama TKM), Maiko Fujimoto (Yokohama TKM), Maki Takano (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Aya Nakajima (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Yumeno Noda (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Wasana Fukushima (Otemon Gakuin Univ), Riho Kurogi (Arukas Queen Kumagaya).