Category Archives: England Rugby

England Women name team for Six Nations Ireland double header

Alphonsi returns for England

England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has made seven changes to the team that defeated Scotland two weeks ago for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, kick off 6:20pm.

In a must win match for England against the defending Six Nations Grand Slam champions, Street has called up a new front row with Rochelle Clark, Emma Croker and Sophie Hemming all starting. Also in the pack Maggie Alphonsi returns in the backrow, partnering Hannah Gallagher and Sarah Hunter.

Worcester’s Katherine Merchant and Bristol’s Kay Wilson form a new wing partnership whilst Lichfield’s Natasha Hunt returns at scrum-half.

Street said: “It has been a tough selection this week but I think the quality of our bench shows the depth we have in this squad. We’ve had good week training and the players are feeling really positive and excited about playing against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.”

England last played Ireland in the Six Nations, and it was the Irish who came out on top winning 25-0 in Ashbourne. Phillip Doyle’s side now head to Twickenham, just like Ireland Men, in search of the Triple Crown whilst England know they have to win to keep any hopes alive of taking back the Six Nations crown after their defeat to France earlier this month.

“This is obviously a big game,” said Street. “With our defeat last season to Ireland, playing at Twickenham and knowing we must win, this is a big match. That said, at the same time, for us every game is a big game all the way through to the Rugby World Cup in August now as this is our target.

“Ireland have a strong all round game with some powerful forwards and pace in their backs whilst we’ve learned a lot from our defeat to France and we are feeling ready for this. I think this will be a great expansive game of rugby for the Twickenham crowd to enjoy.”

Rugby fans can watch England Women v Ireland Women for free with free entry to the stadium after England Men v Ireland.

England team v Ireland

15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)

14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester)                                                                                      

13 Amber Reed (Bristol)

12 Rachel Burford (Thurrock)

11 Kay Wilson (Bristol)

10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) C

9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)

1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)

2 Emma Croker (Richmond)

3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)

4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)

5 Joanne McGilchrist (Wasps)

6 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)

7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)

8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) VC


16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)

17 Laura Keates (Worcester)

18 Sasha Acheson (Bristol)

19 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)

20 Marlie Packer (Wasps)

21 La Toya Mason (Wasps)

22 Ceri Large (Worcester)

23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)


RFU Disciplinary: Tomas O’Leary suspended for stamping

TOMAS O’LEARY (London Irish) has been suspended for three weeks following his sending off in the Aviva Premiership match at London Wasps on February 15.

At an RFU Disiciplinary Hearing the scrum half pleaded guilty to stamping, contrary to law 10.4(b), on London Wasps’ flanker James Haskell.

His ban runs from February 18 until March 10 and he is free to play again the following day.

The case was heard at the offices of Slater and Gordon Solicitors, Chancery Lane, London, by a panel of Jeremy Summers (Chairman) Dr Julian Morris and William Harbage QC.

England squad resumes training ahead of Ireland clash

The following players will return to Pennyhill Park tomorrow evening (Wednesday) to prepare for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland at Twickenham Stadium (4pm, live on BBC Sport)

Forwards (13) 
David Attwood (Bath Rugby) 
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) 
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps) 
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) 
Joe Marler (Harlequins) 
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)   
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) 
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks) 
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) 
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) 
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (10) 
Mike Brown (Harlequins) 
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) 
Danny Care (Harlequins) 
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints) 
Owen Farrell (Saracens) 
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Alex Goode (Saracens) 
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) 
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) 
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We feel that the time is right to include George Ford in the matchday squad. A full three weeks of training has allowed him the chance to really understand the way we are developing our game and this time has been crucial in order for him to feel confident and ready in a key decision making and leadership position.

“We have successfully integrated and included many young players over the last two years and George is the next exciting talent to make his mark in the senior squad and we are a looking forward to see him develop over the next few months. 

“Brad Barritt is obviously disappointed to miss out but he is still a key member of our squad and I am sure he will get further opportunities in the future. He hasn’t had much game time since his injury and will benefit from some time with Saracens over the next two weeks.”

Dan Cole saw a specialist this evening regarding his neck and the results of the assessment will now be considered by the England and Leicester Tigers medical teams. A further update will be given by Stuart Lancaster at Thursday’s media briefing.

Returning to Aviva Premiership clubs

Chris Ashton (Saracens) 
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby) 
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby) 
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby) 
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs) 
Matt Mullan (London Wasps) 
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) 
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) 
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Anti Doping Suspension: William Robinson

WILLIAM ROBINSON (Rotherham Titans) has been suspended for two years by the Rugby Football Union for an Anti-Doping violation.

The player tested positive for Clomiphene, a hormone and metabolic modulator and a prohibited substance, at an out of competition test on July 16, 2013.

A disciplinary panel of Daniel White, Peter Fraser QC and Dr Julian Morris suspended him from August 13, 2013 (the date of the original temporary suspension) until August 13, 2015. He is free to play again the following day.

The player admitted to the offence and agreed to the case being heard on papers without attending in person.

The RFU and Anti-Doping

The Rugby Football Union condemns the use or distribution of prohibited substances or methods as defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

The RFU operates a robust in and out of competition domestic testing programme conducted and co-ordinated by UKAD in compliance with the WADA International Standard for Testing. In season 2012-13 617 tests were carried out, the majority of which were out of competition. A further 345 tests were undertaken as part of the RFU Illicit Drugs Programme. In addition, players are subject but not limited to testing as part of the RBS Six Nations, Heineken Cup, Aviva Premiership and IRB testing programmes. Under the RFU and IRB Anti-Doping Regulation 21 any player may be tested anytime, anywhere. Players may be selected to provide a sample at random or be subject to target testing without prior notice, at matches, squad training sessions or as part of an individual out of competition testing programme.

The RFU and its partners are at the forefront of Anti-Doping education and the RFU aims to protect the spirit of rugby from being undermined by doping and to protect the fundamental right of players to participate in doping-free sport. England teams – from U16 upwards – and Aviva Premiership clubs take part in Anti-Doping education each season, and many Greene King IPA Championship and National One clubs have accredited Anti-Doping tutors. Education of young players also takes place annually in club academies and in RFU-sponsored further education courses while further outreach campaigns have been developed in partnership with UKAD’s 100%Me brand.

William Robinson suspension

During his period of ineligibility William Robinson may not participate in any capacity in a match and/or tournament (international or otherwise) or activity (other than authorised Anti-Doping education or rehabilitation programmes) authorised or organised by the International Rugby Board or any member Union or Tournament Organiser. Such participation includes but is not limited to coaching, officiating, selection, team management, administration or promotion of the Game, playing, training as part of a team or squad, or involvement in the Game in any other capacity in any Union in membership of the IRB.

RFU Disciplinary: Tomas O’Leary and Jonathan Thomas hearings

TOMAS O’LEARY (London Irish) is to appear at an RFU Disciplinary Hearing tomorrow evening following his sending off in the Aviva Premiership match at London Wasps on February 15.

The scrum half was dismissed for allegedly stamping, contrary to law 10.4(b) on the head of London Wasps’ flanker James Haskell.

The case will be heard at the offices of Slater and Gordon Solicitors, Chancery Lane, London, by a panel of Jeremy Summers (Chairman) Dr Julian Morris and William Harbage QC.

Jonathan Thomas (Worcester Warriors) is to appear at a hearing on Wednesday following his sending off in the Aviva Premiership match at Northampton Saints on February 15.

The No 8 was sent off for allegedly striking an opponent, Northampton Saints’ Sam Dickinson, contrary to law 10.4(a).

The case will be held at the Coventry Holiday Inn (J2, M6) on Wednesday evening with a panel of Daniel White (Chairman), Alex Nock and Peter Howard.

England Women U20s announce team to face France in return match

England Women Under 20s Head Coach Amanda Bennett has made four changes for Saturday’s return clash against France U20s at Esher RFC, kick off 2pm.

Following a 27-0 defeat to France earlier this month, Bennett has called up Lichfield’s Emma Harbage, Bristol’s Devon Holt and Loughborough’s Scarlet Cooper-Wall from the bench whilst Worcester’s Emily Wood switches to the right wing. Worcester lock Courtney Gill will captain the side.

On the bench, two players could be set to make their international debuts with Lichfield duo Amy Cockayne and Sarah Nicholas named in the match day 23.

Bennett said: “It’s important that players selected for the U20s programme are exposed to competition so we are looking to the new players selected to step up and perform.”

England U20s couldn’t cope with an on-form French team two weeks ago – they ran in five tries to maintain their three year unbeaten run.

“We learned from the first game in Beauvais and we’re expecting players who faced France last time to take this on board,” added Bennett. “The U20s programme is about player development and there is no better opportunity to show progress than to face the same opposition again within three weeks. 

“We certainly hope we can to close the gap on France this time around. One of the biggest lessons learned was the cost of individual errors and how few opportunities teams get at this level. Changes in one or two key areas can make a big difference on the day.” 

England U20s (Club, Region, Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence College)

15 Sydney Gregson (Welwyn, Hertfordshire, London & South East, Hartpury College)

14 Emily Wood (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West, Hartpury College)

13 Abigail Brown (Worcester, Devon, South West)

12 Lauren Chenoweth (Worcester, Cornwall, South West)

11 Emma Harbage (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands)

10 Megan Goddard  (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West)

9 Devon Holt (Bristol, Berkshire, South West)

1 Abbie Parsons (Bristol, Berkshire, South West)

2 Lark Davies (Worcester, North Midlands, Midlands)

3 Scarlett Cooper-Wall (Loughborough, Hertfordshire, South West)

4 Amy Wigley (Worcester, North Midlands, Midlands, Hartpury College)

5 Courtney Gill (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West) C

6 Francesca  Hall (Richmond, Hampshire, London & South East)

7 Lucie Wood (Bristol, Gloucestershire, South West)

8 Jo Brown (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, Durham, North)


16 Amy Cockayne (Lichfield, Midlands)

17 Catherine Pugh (Lichfield, Essex, London & South East)

18 Henrietta  Burkinshaw (Lichfield, Yorkshire, North)

19 Katie Turnbull (Bristol, South West)

20 Rebecca Trist (Worcester, South West)

21 Bianca Blackburn (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West)

22 Sarah Nicholas (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands)

23 Rosemary Kells (Bristol, Gloucestershire, South West)

Johnson relishing England Counties captaincy

OLD friendships will be renewed and new ones will be formed when the England Counties XV squad assembles in Darlington this week to prepare for the international against Ireland Club XV at the Durham town’s Northern Echo Arena on Friday February 21 (7.30pm).

The match will give players from clubs in National League One and National Leagues Two North and South the chance to player for their country in the representative flagship of community rugby in England but also to get to know better players who are usually opponents.

“The best thing for me about playing for England Counties is that the friends that you make,” said Fylde fly-half Chris Johnson, who will again have the honour of captaining England Counties this week.

“You come up against most of the players in the squad during the league season but playing with the Counties XV means that you work together and from that some strong friendships are formed.”

Johnson had his first taste of captaining England Counties on their tour to Belgium last summer and he stepped into the breach against France Federale XV last month when Wharfedale number eight Rob Baldwin was suspended for one week after he accumulated three yellow cards for foul play during the season.

Baldwin has served his suspension and is available to play at Darlington Mowden Park’s 25,000 capacity stadium but Johnson has retained the captaincy for the Ireland match.

“It was a bit of a surprise when I got the captaincy because Rob was the original captain and they asked me at the last minute when he was suspended,” Johnson said.

“I captained the side in the first match of the Belgium tour last year which was a great experience and leading the team for the first time in an international in France was a great honour.

“Leading the side out at Darlington will be a proud moment for me. I will have a few friends and a few family members to support me.

“We’ve made a few changes to the squad from the defeat in France but, from my previous experience of playing Ireland when we drew against them at Donnybrook in 2009, I’m looking forward to going up against them again.”

Johnson, 27, is in his second season with Fylde having started his career with Rochdale, his hometown club. But it was during a successful stint with Huddersfield, now in National Three North, that Johnson was first capped by England Counties.

These are heady days for Huddersfield who also set Luther Burrell  on his way to stardom although Johnson’s career did not quite overlap with England’s new centre.

“The coaches at Huddersfield did a lot for me and I still have some very good friends there,” Johnson said.

“But I decided to try my hand at National One level after I played county rugby for Lancashire with Mark Nelson as coach and he persuaded me to give it a go.

“Fylde is such a great club with a proud history and to have Brian Ashton involved there was another factor. Turning up to my first training session and being coached by a former England coach was a memorable experience.”

Johnson is one of three Fylde players in the England Counties squad for Friday’s match alongside centre Chris Briers, who also played in the 16-15 defeat in France, and prop Adam Lewis, who will have his chance to make new and lasting friends in his first involvement in the squad.

England Women had to settle for a disappointing seventh place finish in the Atlanta leg of the IRB Sevens World Series on Sunday.

Simon Middleton’s side were knocked out of the cup competition by Dubai World Series winners Australia in the quarter-finals, before then losing to America in the Plate semi-finals. That defeat pooled England against Japan for the battle for seventh place which England secured.

England Sevens Head Coach Simon Middleton, who took charge of this England side just last month, said: “We are obviously disappointed with the result this weekend. There are some positive elements but we need to have more consistency in our performances.

“We have high expectations of what we can achieve because we have quality players. We know that we have got to deliver quality performances in every game though if we want to achieve the results we strive for.

“There is lots of work to be done this week but the players are up for it. We are all on a steep learning curve but we are looking forward to the challenge.”

England booked their place in the Cup quarter finals after victories over Ireland (32-0) and the Netherlands (19-12) and a 14-5 defeat to reigning world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

Sunday, however, was a different day altogether for England with Australia taking a 17-12 win to secure a place in the semi-finals. England pushed Australia hard for that win, forcing the game into extra time when the match was level at 12-12 at full-time. Wallaby captain Sharni Williams was decisive in the extra period though and put the vital points on the board.

England, however, failed to pick themselves up for the Plate semi-finals with the USA’s Jessica Javelet running in a hat-trick of tries to seal a convincing 5-19 victory.

England regrouped for the final match against Japan, taking a 19-12 win. A hat-trick of tries from Natasha Brennan and two conversions from Sarah Mckenna secured the win.

England now sit fifth in the World Sevens Series ranking ahead of round three which kicks off this Friday in Sao Paulo.

England Sevens

Claire Allan (VC) (Richmond) Natasha Brennan (Richmond) Abigail Chamberlain (C) (Richmond) Heather Fisher (Worcester) Francesca Matthews (Richmond) Sarah McKenna (Saracens) Leanne Riley (Saracens) Emily Scott (Thurrock) Sally Tuson (Saracens) Danielle Waterman (Bristol) Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol) Michaela Staniford (Wasps)

England Atlanta Playing Schedule:

England 32 Ireland 0 – Tries: Brenna (3), Waterman, Allan, Chamberlain Conversions: Brennan

England 19 Netherlands 12 – Tries: Allan, Brennan, McKenna Conversions: McKenna (2)

New Zealand 14 England 5 – Tries: Waterman

England 12 Australia 17 – Tries: Chamberlain, Allan, Conversions: McKenna

England 5 USA 19 – Tries: Wilson-Hardy

England 19 Japan 5 – Tries: Brennan (3) Conversions: McKenna (2)


DAN COLE will have a period of rest from rugby to relieve a bulging disc in his neck which is trapping a nerve.

The Leicester Tigers and England tight-head prop was diagnosed after experiencing weakness during a gym session at St George’s Park last week and will miss the rest of the RBS 6 Nations.

Cole will have further specialist assessment on Tuesday evening and England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “It’s massively disappointing for Dan, Leicester and England but the important thing is that this has been diagnosed and that Dan gets the appropriate rest and treatment.

“Our medics are working closely with Leicester’s to come up with a programme that will ensure Dan returns in the best possible shape. In the meantime, it’s great to have David Wilson back, as well as Henry Thomas who has trained well and came off the bench against Scotland and this will be an opportunity to develop experience in this area.”

Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill said:  “It’s very disappointing for us and for England, and obviously for Dan, but his long-term fitness is more important. He’ll have time to get over this issue and come back when the medical teams are satisfied with his progress.

The following players reported to Pennyhill Park this evening to prepare for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland at Twickenham.

Forwards (17)
David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Matt Mullan (London Wasps)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (16)
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)


England supporters can use #carrythemhome to tweet their motivational messages to the team, which could then appear on the Twickenham Stadium tunnel wall as the players take to the field. Before the roar of the crowd, the national anthems, or that first blow of the whistle, your words will inspire England. Be the First Contact.

England Women reach World Sevens Series Atlanta Quarter Finals

England Women Sevens booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Atlanta leg of the World Series on Saturday night and will now face Australia in the final eight.

England’s Natasha Brennan

A new looking England side recorded victories over Ireland and the Netherlands but fell to a 14-5 defeat to reigning world champions New Zealand in the final round of pool matches.

Richmond’s Natasha Brennan secured a hat-trick of tries in an opening 32-0 defeat of Ireland, whilst Danielle Waterman, returning from a long term injury, Claire Allan and captain Abigail Chamberlain also added tries.

England then put 19 points on the Netherlands in a 19-12 victory with Brennan and Allan once again on the score sheet. Sarah McKenna also added a try and two conversions.

In the final match of the day Waterman was the only scorer in the 14-5 defeat to New Zealand. England now take on Dubai World Series winners Australia in the quarter-finals at 5:22pm GMT today.

New England Sevens Head Coach Simon Middleton said: “We played disciplined and intelligent rugby for most of the day, translating areas we have discussed in training into games. However, we recognise that we still have plenty to work on but we have a really good baseline showing us where we are.

“Although we are disappointed we didn’t beat New Zealand we are generally pleased with the performances on the opening day. We know we have to step up again if we are to progress any further in the tournament.

“We know Australia is going to be a huge challenge. They are a skilful, physical and a dynamic side. They showed in Dubai how dangerous they are and what character they have.”

England Sevens

Claire Allan (VC) (Richmond)

Natasha Brennan (Richmond)

Abigail Chamberlain (C) (Richmond)

Heather Fisher (Worcester)

Francesca Matthews (Richmond)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens)

Leanne Riley (Saracens)

Emily Scott (Thurrock)

Sally Tuson (Saracens)

Danielle Waterman (Bristol)

Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol)

Michaela Staniford (Wasps)

England Atlanta Playing Schedule:

February 15

England 32 Ireland 0

Tries: Brenna (3), Waterman, Allan, Chamberlain

Conversions: Brennan

England 19 Netherlands 12

Tries: Allan, Brennan, McKenna

Conversions: McKenna (2)

New Zealand 14 England 5

Tries: Waterman

February 16

5:22pm GMT England v Australia

Knock out matches TBC

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