England Women, Red Roses, Six Nations, England rugby, women's rugby

France v England preview: everything you need to know

Mike Bovill
Authored by Mike Bovill
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2020 - 10:01

What, where and when?

Fresh from completing a Covid-delayed Grand Slam, England travel to the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble for the first of two back-to-back autumn internationals against France. The match kicks off at 1315 (GMT) on Saturday 14 November.

How can I watch?

The Rugby Football Union has reached an agreement with the BBC for both matches to be shown on terrestrial television. For the first time, the Red Roses will feature on one of the main stations rather than the Red Button or a digital channel.

The game is live on BBC 2 with coverage from 1300. Lee McKenzie, Sara Orchard and Sonja McLaughlan will be part of the presenting and commentary team.

Who's playing?

England head coach Simon Middleton has picked a young starting XV as preparations being in earnest for Rugby World Cup 2021. Loughborough Lightning fly-half Helena Rowland will make her first start since switching back from Sevens, combining with Zoe Harrison in the 10-12 axis whilst Katy Daley-Mclean is rested. 

Scrum half Mo Hunt is currently self-isolating so Harlequins Leanne Riley starts at half-back. It's also an all-Quins front row of Vickii Cornborough, Amy Cokayne and Shaunagh Brown. 

World Cup-winner Laura Keates is set to win her first cap since 2017 from the bench whilst Megan Jones and teenage sensation Morwenna Talling are also amongst the replacements.

The line-ups

France: Izar; Bertrand, Filopon, Neisen, Menager; Drouin, Sansus; Deshaye, Sochat, Bernadou, Ferer, Diallo, Mayans, Hermet, Gros

Replacements: Touye, Ait Lahbib, Pelle, Feleu, Lecat, Bourdon, Vernier, Pignot

England: Kildunne; Breach, Scarratt (capt), Harrison, Dow; Rowland, Riley; Cornborough, Cokayne, Brown, Ward (vice-capt), Cleall, Matthews, Packer, Beckett

Replacements: Davies, Harper, Keates, Talling, Millar-Mills, MacDonald, Smith, Jones

The opposition

It has been a frustrating few weeks for France with a major Covid outbreak within the squad causing the initial postponement and then cancellation of their final Six Nations fixture against Ireland following a surprise draw with Scotland the previous week. They will be keen, therefore, to push England as hard as possible across the two matches to establish their own credentials amongst the favourites for the World Cup. 

Who said what?

England head coach Simon Middleton: “We’re really looking forward to heading out to France for what will be another competitive game. We see this fixture as a big opportunity for some of our younger players to play away in France, which is always one of our toughest games.

"Given our two 2021 Six Nations games against France and Italy are both at home, this is a big opportunity to compete against top quality opposition away from home ahead of next year’s World Cup.

“Helena Rowland has really impressed since her return to XVs with Loughborough and deserves her chance. We’re really looking forward to seeing her link up with Zoe Harrison. We know what Katy Daley-Mclean can do on the big stage and the presence she brings and see this game as an opportunity for others."

RFU head of women's performance Nicky Ponsford: "We are delighted that the BBC will be showing our two autumn matches. We have two strong teams competing and expect two tough matches. We know how important visibility is in growing the women's game and will be aiming to put on a show for everyone watching from home."

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