Maggie Alphonso scoring for England against Scotland last weekend

ENGLAND WOMEN’S Head Coach Gary Street has made two changes for Friday’s RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland, which sees England bidding for a sixth successive crown and a Grand Slam at Ashbourne RFC (kick off 730pm).

Richmond hooker Emma Croker and Saracens’ Margaret Alphonsi have been called back into the starting line-up. Croker is given her second start of the tournament, while Alphonsi returns as Street once again juggles his competitive backrow line-up.

After England’s record breaking 89-0 demolition of Scotland on Sunday at Twickenham Stadium England are now in pole position in the championship as the only unbeaten side.

“As usual we have named a strong side for what we think will be our toughest game of the tournament,” said Street, whose side have conceded just eight points throughout the tournament. “Emma has shown great energy and has made a real impact when she has come on so she deserves the start, and our backrow is as competitive as ever. It was a tough call but this balance worked well against France, whilst I know Catherine will be chomping at the bit to come off the bench.”

England last played Ireland in the opening game of the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup and despite a 27-0 victory it was a tough and physical fixture for the Rugby World Cup finalists.

“You can never underestimate Ireland,” added Street. “They have had a mixed season but they are playing at home so we know this is going to be a really passionate encounter. Ireland proved to be our most physical game in the world cup last year and I am sure this will be our toughest game of the Six Nations. Obviously the Six Nations title is in our minds, but what we have to concentrate on is building on our performances and to keep moving forward.”


15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)

14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)

13 Rachael Burford (Richmond)

12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)

11 Francesca Matthews (Richmond)

10 Katy McLean (C) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

9 La Toya Mason (Wasps)

1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)

2 Emma Croker (Richmond)

3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)

4 Rebecca Essex(Richmond)

5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)

6 Heather Fisher(Worcester)

7 Margaret Alphonsi (vc) (Saracens)

8 SarahHunter (Lichfield)


16 Amy Garnett (Saracens)

17 ClairePurdy(Wasps)

18 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)

19 Catherine Spencer (Bristol)

20 Georgina Rozario (Lichfield)

21 Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

22 Danielle Waterman (Worcester)