Richmond flanker Alexandra Matthews is set to make her England debut on Saturday when England take on France at the Pierre de Coubertin Stadium in Chateaurenard, kick off 2pm GMT, and with a sister who has already been capped for England the 18-year-old is also hoping to make her move into senior international rugby a permanent one.
Matthews, who has been called up from the England U20s squad, has seen her older sister Francesca earn 19 caps for England on the wing and involved in a handful of Six Nations winning campaigns. Alexandra has also tasted success with the England U20s but she is now hoping that Saturday’s match will mark a significant step up in her rugby career.
“When I found out that I had been given the chance to make my debut against France it was just such an amazing feeling and I was also very surprised,” said the Roehampton Sports Phycology student. “I have watched my sister achieve the amazing things she has for England and I have always wanted to have my chance to do the same and now I have got it.
“I will be nervous on Saturday but I think I will thrive on that. I know this is a really important opportunity for me and hopefully it is one step closer to me achieving my dream which is to play international rugby alongside my sister.”
Matthews got her first taste of senior international rugby on Wednesday in an uncapped friendly against France in Marseille. Although England lost 14-5 Matthews certainly caught the eye of England Head Coach Gary Street who has given her the only starting debut cap for this game.
“Wednesday’s game was a tough one against France,” added Matthews. “It was hugely physical and the really wet weather conditions made it a very difficult game. I actually didn’t think I played too well but I guess I must have done something right.
“This time around I know the whole squad wants to put right the result. We do not want another defeat and we will be really up for going out there and putting on a strong England performance. We will have to go out a lot harder this time and knock them back. Hopefully the conditions will be drier and we can get some good ball out to our backs so they can show what they can do.”
England Starting XV
15 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
13 Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
12 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
10 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
9 La Toya Mason (Wasps)
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
6 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol)
8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield)
16 Amy Turner (Richmond)
17 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield)
18 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
19 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
20 IsobelNoel-Smith (Bristol)
21 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
22 Ceri Large (Worcester)
England Autumn International Series
Nov 2nd France v England, Jean Bouin Stadium, Marseille, France 14 England 5
Nov 5th France v England, Pierre de Coubertin Stadium at Chateaurenard, KO 2pm GMT
Nov 26th England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm
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