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Hunter predicting thriller for England and France showdown

England's all-time appearance holder could win her 11th Six Nations title on Saturday (©INPHO/Bryan Keane)

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Sarah Hunter expects England’s Grand Slam decider against France to live up to its billing and be remembered as one of the sport’s greatest ever fixtures.

North Shields-born and Loughborough Lightning legend Hunter played her final Red Roses match in round one of this year’s Six Nations as England brushed Scotland aside before convincing victories against Italy, Wales and Ireland.

France are the only foe England have left to conquer and they, like their opponents on Saturday, have won each of their first four matches.

Speaking ahead of the Red Roses Twickenham homecoming, Hunter feels the decision to take the team around the country in a bid to build a greater following has proved transformative.

She said: “This is potentially going to be one of the best games that there has been.

“England Rugby decided to take our game to different places which I think has really benefited us because we've gone to new areas of the country and generated a new fan base and level of interest in the women's game.

“It's meant people have travelled around the country to come and see us and it’s made it more accessible.

“We always used to have doubleheaders with the men's team which were great and it was really special to play at Twickenham but we were never in a place to be able to get 50,000 people in.

“I think the plan to take it away to bring it back has been really smart and I'm sure it won’t be long before we sell out Twickenham which is just an incredible thought.”

Hunter, who won 141 caps before calling time on her career last month, will still be close to the heart of the action as a pundit for the BBC on a record-breaking day for the sport.

The first standalone women’s fixture at Twickenham will see more than 53,000 people in attendance, an occasion which Hunter suspects will live long in the memory.

She added: “I think you've got two of the best teams in the world going for a Grand Slam decider which will be an almighty climax to the tournament and a fantastic occasion for a rugby fan.”

“The Sugababes are playing at halftime which will make it a great entertainment event as well.

“Playing at the home of English rugby is always unique but to be able to experience the atmosphere there will be for this game will just be unreal for the girls.”

O2 and the RFU have co-funded a half-time performance by the Sugababes for the Red Roses v France Women’s Six Nations match on Saturday 29 April. For tickets, visit https://www.eticketing.co.uk/rfu/Events