England will be without two stars

England have been handed some blows before their winner-takes-all Women’s Six Nations grand slam match against France.

Hooker Lark Atkin-Davies and lock Rosie Galligan have been ruled out through injury. Atkin-Davies was replaced during the team’s win over Ireland last Saturday with an ankle injury, while Galligan dislocated her thumb in the warm-up and she was withdrawn late on. Both players will assess their injuries this week with specialists.

Katie Buchanan has been called up into the squad after recovering from her own injury. Maisie Allen and Liz Crake have also been called up to help with preparations.

Sarah Beckett and Amy Cokayne, who both were given bans after receiving red cards, return to the squad.

England are bidding for their sixth successive title and what would be their third consecutive grand slam. So far in the tournament they have conceded 20 points but scored 228. They have been dominant and they will be favourites heading into the match against the French.

France have had a good tournament too, beating every opposition they have faced so far. Their attack took a dip against Scotland but Bryan Easson’s side’s defence that day was impressive.

England’s head coach John Mitchell was asked about the competitiveness of the tournament after his team’s 88-10 win over Ireland.

He said: “I am sure people will chat about the competitiveness but at the end of the day we drive ourselves. That is all we can focus on. I don’t think we are in a position to judge the competition or the competitiveness. All we can really focus on is the way we prepare and our standards have gone up a little bit.”

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