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Hunter set to break Test record as England name quarter-final team

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/RFU Collection via Getty Images

Sarah Hunter will become the most capped England player when she captains her country in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia. Hunter, 37, is set to make her 138th appearance for the Red Roses in Auckland, surpassing the previous record held by Rochelle Clark, while Sarah Bern will win her 50th cap.


Tatyana Heard retains her place in the starting XV at inside centre after being awarded the player of the match award in the victory over South Africa last weekend with Zoe Harrison at fly-half and vice-captain Emily Scarratt at outside centre. Helena Rowland (full back), Lydia Thompson (right wing) and Abby Dow (left wing) form the back three.

Vickii Cornborough (loosehead prop), Amy Cokayne (hooker) and Sarah Bern (tighthead prop) make up the front row while Zoe Aldcroft and Abbie Ward are the lock pairing. Alex Matthews and Marlie Packer are at blindside and openside flanker respectively. Lark Davies is among the finishers after recovering from an ankle injury alongside Hannah Botterman, Maud Muir, Rosie Galligan, Poppy Cleall, Lucy Packer, Holly Aitchison and Ellie Kildunne.

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No player in the men’s or women’s game has played for England more than Hunter, and coach Simon Middleton paid tribute to the number eight. Middleton said: “Sunday is a special day for two Red Roses. I’d like to give a special mention to Sarah Hunter, who becomes the most-capped England player of all time across the men’s and women’s game.

“To earn 138 caps for your country is a remarkable achievement and deserves to be celebrated. The way she conducts herself in everything she does both on and off the field is admirable. Her people skills, ability to lead and communicate with people from all walks of life makes her stand out. She takes pride in everything she does and does it to the best of her ability.


“As a sports person the one thing you hope you can do when you look back is to be able to say to yourself, ‘I couldn’t have given more, I’ve been the best I could be’. Sarah is one of the very few who will be able to unequivocally do that. She is a unique person and captain.”


On 25-year-old prop Bern, Middleton added: “Sarah Bern also reaches 50 caps, which is remarkable for someone so young. Sarah broke onto the scene at a young age and has become an integral part of our group from both a playing and leadership perspective. We are delighted for her.”

England (vs Australia, Sunday)
15. Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 20 caps)
14. Lydia Thompson (University of Worcester Warriors, 56 caps)
13. Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lightning, 105 caps)
12. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 6 caps)
11. Abby Dow (Wasps, 27 caps)
10. Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 43 caps)
9. Leanne Infante (Saracens, 55 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 72 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 67 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 49 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 35 caps)
5. Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 58 caps)
6. Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury, 53 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 86 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (Captain – Loughborough Lightning, 137 caps)

16. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 41 caps)
17. Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 33 caps)
18. Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury, 14 caps)
19. Rosie Galligan (Harlequins, 8 caps)
20. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 60 caps)
21. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 7 caps)
22. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 12 caps)
23. Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 28 caps)


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