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England and Scotland name teams for Saturday's opening round Six Nations match

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Umbro)

Defending champions England and rivals Scotland have names their respective XVs for Saturday’s 2021 Six Nations opener at Doncaster, a match that will be broadcast live on the BBC iPlayer. Emily Scarratt captains the side with the game coming too soon for Sarah Hunter, who continues to manage her full return to play. Prop Bryony Cleall is set to earn her second cap, taking her place in the front row alongside Vickii Cornborough and Lark Davies while Cath O’Donnell starts at lock.


Zoe Aldcroft, Lydia Thompson and Sarah McKenna all return after missing the autumn internationals. Leanne Riley starts at scrum-half alongside out-half Helena Rowland. Wing Abby Dow misses the match due to personal reasons.

England Six Nations coach Simon Middleton said: “We are pleased to be able to welcome a number of players back from injury. It is great to have Bryony back in the frame. It is over two years since her debut and she has been really unfortunate with injuries. However, she has continued to work hard on her rehab and return to play programme and deserves her opportunity.

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Ex-Wales and Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips guests in the latest RugbyPass Offload with Ryan Wilson
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Ex-Wales and Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips guests in the latest RugbyPass Offload with Ryan Wilson

“Similarly, Cath O’Donnell has been out for a long time. Cath brings a physicality and a go-forward quality you need in international rugby and it is great to see her back on the field. We have had a high-quality week preparing in Doncaster and we are as ready as we can possibly be at this point to play.”

Scotland’s back division to face England remains unchanged from their last Six Nations match against France in October, with Hannah Smith partnering Lisa Thomson in the centres, stand-off Helen Nelson and scrum-half Mairi McDonald returning and full-back Chloe Rollie lining up with wingers Rachel Shankland and Megan Gaffney in the back three.

In the front row, hooker Lana Skeldon will pack down alongside Leah Bartlett and Christine Belisle, while Emma Wassell will link up with Louise McMillan in the second row. Captain Rachel Malcolm joins Rachel McLachlan and Siobhan Cattigan in the back row.


Coach Bryan Easson said: “It’s been tough to select the team this week which has been a real positive as it shows there is good strength in depth within this squad. The team that will take to the field on Saturday has an exciting blend of youth and experience. 

“We have several players that have been involved in a number of Six Nations championships now, but we also have a lot of young and upcoming talent that are pushing for places in the team.”

15. Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 32 caps)
14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 46 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (Capt, Loughborough Lightning, 92 caps)
12. Lagi Tuima (Harlequins Women, 6 caps)
11. Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 15 caps)
10. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 40 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women 56 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 28 caps)
3. Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women, 1 cap)
4. Abbie Ward (Harlequins Women 45 caps)
5. Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 16 caps)
6. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester Hartpury Women, 20 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 74 caps)
8. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 43 caps)
16. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women, 53 caps)
17. Detysha Harper (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)
18. Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 20 caps)
19. Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 58 caps)
20. Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 76 caps)
21. Claudia MacDonald (Wasps FC Ladies, 12 caps)
22. Megan Jones (Wasps FC Ladies, 10 caps)
23. Ellie Kildunne (Wasps FC Ladies, 11 caps)

15. Chloe Rollie (Harlequins)
14. Rachel Shankland (Stirling County)
13. Hannah Smith (Watsonians)
12. Lisa Thomson (Unattached)
11. Megan Gaffney (Heriots)
10. Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning)
9. Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill)
1. Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning)
2. Lana Skeldon (Unattached)
3. Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park)
4. Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars)
5. Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill)
6. Rachel Malcolm (Capt, Loughborough Lightning)
7. Rachel McLachlan (Unattached)
8. Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County)
16. Molly Wright (Watsonians)
17. Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University/Watsonians)
18. Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park)
19. Evie Gallagher (Stirling County)
20. Jodie Rettie (Saracens)
21. Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning)
22. Sarah Law (Unattached)
23. Liz Musgrove (Unattached)



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