England Women make 12 changes for Spain

  • England look to bank second win
  • Matthews, Reed and Allan set for World Cup debuts

England Women’s Head Coach Gary Street has made 12 changes to the starting line-up, including one positional, for Tuesday’s Women's Rugby World Cup clash against Spain at Marcoussis (kick-off 2.45pm BST).

Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter will captain the side as Street choses to rotate his 26-player squad. Hunter moves to flanker with Richmond’s Alexandra Matthews coming in at No.8, making her World Cup debut and first start for England since July 2013.

There is also a new front row of Claire Purdy, Victoria Fleetwood and Sophie Hemming, while Rebecca Essex and Marlie Packer get their first WRWC starts in the pack.

Scrum half La Toya Mason has been appointed vice-captain and she teams up with Ceri Large at fly half as Katie Mclean is rested. Amber Reed and Claire Allan form a new centre partnership for this game.

England Head Coach Street, whose side defeated Samoa 65-3 in the tournament opener on Friday, said: “Because of the schedule of the World Cup it's key that we rotate our players. Having a game every four days is hugely physically and mentally demanding so our strategy is to rotate the squad and keep the players fresh.

“Rotating the squad means Sarah Hunter is captain for this game and she brings a wealth of knowledge to the role.

“This is a very different looking team to the one that defeated Samoa but there are still 575 caps shared between our starters, so this is by no means an inexperienced team. We have got the depth so we are going to use it.

“It is exciting to bring back Alex Matthews who has been out for a while with injury. She has been outstanding in our training camps over the last couple of months. Alex is a dynamic ball carrier and gives us another huge physical presence in the backrow.”

England have won all nine of their previous meetings against Spain. The two sides last met in the 2012 European Cup, a contest England won 61-0. Spain opened their Women's Rugby World Cup account with a 31-5 defeat to Canada.

Street added: “Apart from a shaky 20 minutes against Canada in their opening World Cup game, I thought they played some excellent rugby.

“They have some strong ball-carrying forwards and some quick athletic backs from the sevens programme. After one defeat they are going to be fighting all out for a spot in the knockout stages.”

England team to face Spain 

15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
14 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
13 Claire Allan (Richmond)
12 Amber Reed (Bristol)
11 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
10 Ceri Large (Worcester)
9 La Toya Mason (Wasps, vice-captain) 

1 Claire Purdy (Wasps)
2 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
4 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps)
5 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield, captain)
7 Marlie Packer (Wasps)
8 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)


16 Emma Croker (Richmond)
17 Laura Keates (Worcester)
18 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
19 Heather Fisher (Worcester)
20 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
21 Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
22 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)

England’s WRWC result and fixtures

Friday, August 1
England 65 Samoa 3,

Tuesday, August 5
England v Spain, kick-off 2.45pm BST, Marcoussis, live on Sky Sports 1

Saturday, August 9
England v Canada, KO 2.45pm BST, Marcoussis, live Sky Sports 1