The England Women’s squad to take on world champions New Zealand over three international tests later this month has been announced and it includes 16 survivors from last year’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
England will take on their old rivals, the Black Ferns, over two weeks with the first test kicking off at Twickenham Stadium on November 26th, kick off 5pm following the Australia versus Barbarians clash. The women’s rugby giants will then meet again on November 29th and December 3rd at Esher RFC.
The two sides haven’t met since the Rugby World Cup final 14 months ago when New Zealand just edged out the host nations 13-10 in a thrilling final in front of a record breaking crowd, denying England their chance to lift the world cup crown again.
After a two test series defeat to France last week for a young England side Head Coach Gary Street has welcomed back Margaret Alphonsi, Rebecca Essex, Sophie Hemming, Katy McLean, Danielle Waterman, Alice Richardson and Claire Purdy to the squad. At the same time, some strong performances for England’s five newly capped players in France has seen Hannah Gallagher and Alexandra Matthews, who scored on her debut, also get the nod into the squad.
Street said: “Barring a handful of injuries I have been able to select the core squad from last year’s Rugby World Cup. This means we have a lot of experience in the side as well as a lot of potential through our younger players. We have got some exciting new caps in Alexandra Matthews and Hannah Gallagher who did an excellent job against France and certainly did enough to cement their place in this squad.
“I am sure for our experienced players there is the matter of unfinished business against New Zealand. In the world cup final we didn’t play to our potential and I know the players will want to put that right against New Zealand in our first game at Twickenham Stadium.”
England head into the series on the back of a winning Six Nations and Nations Cup campaign while New Zealand have not played an international test match since being crowned world champions in 2010. Street, however, is not expecting anything less that another world class performance from the Black Ferns.
“New Zealand’s international record is second to none, they always turn up and I am not expecting anything less for this series,” added Street. “Like us they too have a strong world cup contingent in their squad as well as some young players, which is really going to set up this series to be a thriller.”
England Women’s Squad
Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
Rachael Burford (Richmond)
Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Laura Keates (Worcester)
La Toya Mason (Wasps)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Amy Turner (Richmond)
Tamara Taylor(Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
Kay Wilson (Richmond)
England Autumn International Series
Nov 26th England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm, live on Sky Sports
Nov 29th England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm
Dec 3rd England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, 2pm
Tickets for the game at Twickenham on November 26th are available from Ticketmaster.co.uk and group booking are available from the RFU by calling 0871 22 22 017, option 6. Prices range from £65 to £35. Junior tickets cost just £15.
Tickets for the international tests at Esher RFC on November 29th and December 3rd will be available on the gate and cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors. They can also be purchased in advance at www.esherrugby.com