After having demolished Canada 79-5 and 49-12 in the first two Tests of their autumn series, England Women look to make it a clean sweep in Twickenham on Saturday evening, with captain Sarah Hunter allaying fears around a possible decline in standards of women’s XVs rugby where there is a large gap between top nations such as England, New Zealand and France and their opponents.
Considering the Canadians went into this series ranked fourth in the world, one could question the health of the women’s XVs game after the World Cup, with many unions including Canada opting to shift the bulk of their resources towards sevens as next year’s Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens loom, along with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
England despite not renewing women’s XVs contracts is far ahead of other nations as a match and training fee structure was introduced for this series. Also, in terms of coaching, the Red Roses have possibly the most professional set up in the women’s game.
However, Hunter, who won her 100th England cap against Canada at the Stoop on Tuesday, believes strides are being made to make the XVs game as completive as possible and believes these autumn internationals so soon after a World Cup show a positive statement of intent towards women’s XVs.
“I think if you look across the board, there has been Test matches or international matches this autumn. Scotland, Spain and Wales have all played. Italy played France last week. Normally, after a World Cup, you wouldn’t see any rugby.
"The fact that international teams have gone out and want to play and the fact that Canada have come over here. At the start of a four year cycle, there is always going to be a lot of changes but I think it is great that there have been so many female autumn internationals this year.”
England XV: D Waterman, A Dow, L Tuima, R Burford, J Breach, K Daley-Mclean, Leanne Riley; V Cornborough, Cokayne, H Kerr, A Scott, P Cleall, R Burnfield, M Packer, S Hunter (captain)
Replacements: L Davis, R Clark, J Lucas, C O’Donnell, I Noel-Smith, C Mattinson, Z Harrison, E Kildunne
Twickenham Stadium, 25th November
KO 5:40 pm,
Live Sky Sports Arena & Sky Sports Mix