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Marlie Packer recovers from injury to lead England in Grand Slam decider

Photo by Hagen Hopkins - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Marlie Packer captains the Red Roses as England name their squad to take on France in Saturday’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam decider at Twickenham Stadium.


The flanker hobbled off the pitch last weekend in Cork with a suspected ankle injury but has made a full recovery to lead out the defending Six Nations champions.

Joining her in the back row is Sadia Kabeya at blind-side flanker and Alex Matthews at number eight.

Helena Rowland makes her first start of the 2023 tournament at outside centre with Holly Aitchison and Tatyana Heard the 10-12 axis.

Hannah Botterman, who was also an injury doubt for the game is named to start at loosehead with Lark Davies and Sarah Bern completing the front row.

Zoe Aldcroft and Sarah Beckett are the lock pairing.

Lucy Packer pushes out Natasha Hunt to start at scrum half with her Harlequins team mates Ellie Kildunne, Abby Dow and Exeter Chiefs’ Claudia MacDonald in the back three.


There’s a return for Saracens’ Poppy Cleall following injury, she is named among the finishers.

An RFU statement read:

Head coach Simon Middleton said: “We’re really excited and looking forward to Saturday’s match against France in what will be another landmark moment in the women’s game.

“We’ve had some entertaining and tight battles with France over a long period of time and this one will be no different. Both teams have had strong Six Nations campaigns off the back of presenting different game plans from what we have seen before.

“France will also be relishing the challenge and David Ortiz, Gaëlle Mignot and their team will have prepared their players well.


“I think it’s only fitting at this point to also recognise and pay tribute to Jessy Trémoulière, one of the greats of the game, as she calls time on her international playing career. She will be missed, for sure.

“Notwithstanding, the players we knew at the start to be unavailable for the tournament, this is the first week in the competition we can say we have a near-full squad to select from. Credit must go to our medical and strength and conditioning teams who have worked tirelessly with our players to ensure their availability. At the same time, the return of some of our more established players means that others will inevitably miss out.

“Whilst I know they will be bitterly disappointed in missing the game, they should take immense pride in their performances throughout the Six Nations in terms of both playing and helping to prepare the side. Once again, this has been a tremendous squad effort and typifies everything good about the Red Roses.

“Playing in front of a record crowd is a huge marker of where the game is at. It’s huge testament to the hard work of many people at the RFU and it bodes extremely well building up to the 2025 World Cup.”

England team to play France
15. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 33 caps)
14. Abby Dow (Harlequins, 34 caps)
13. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 23 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 13 caps)
11. Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 27 caps)
10. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 19 caps)
9. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 13 caps)

1. Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 36 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 48 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 56 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (VC; Gloucester Hartpury, 42 caps)
5. Sarah Beckett (Gloucester-Hartpury, 29 caps)
6. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 12 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (C; Saracens, 93 caps)
8. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 58 caps)

16. Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury, 8 caps)
17. Mackenzie Carson (Saracens, 4 caps)
18. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 19 caps)
19. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 64 caps)
20. Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning, 6 caps)
21. Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury, 61 caps)
22. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 64 caps)
23. Jess Breach (Saracens, 27 caps)


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