The squad of 28 players to represent England in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup has been confirmed ahead of the global tournament which kicks off in Dublin on Wednesday 9 August.
Rachael Burford (Harlequins), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) and Danielle Waterman (Bristol) all head to their fourth-consecutive World Cup, having appeared in every tournament since 2006.
Sarah Hunter (Bristol), who led the team to their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2012 earlier this season, will lead the side with Emily Scarratt (Lichfield) named as vice captain.
England, the current world champions, are drawn in Pool B alongside Spain, Italy as well as United States and kick off their campaign against Spain at the UCD Bowl on Wednesday 9 August at 2pm. All England games will be broadcast live on ITV.
Head coach Simon Middleton has named a squad of significant experience, sharing a total of 1,207 caps.
Of the 28 names, 15 were part of the Red Roses’ 2014 World Cup-winning squad and six players, Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Emily Scott (Saracens), Danielle Waterman (Bristol) and Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol), represented Team GB sevens at last year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Following a successful three-Test tour in New Zealand, where the Red Roses overcame Australia, Canada and the Black Ferns, the side go into the competition ranked number one team in the world.
“We are confident we have an incredibly strong squad, made up of hugely experienced players who have featured in previous Women’s Rugby World Cups and other major tournaments such as the Olympics,” said Middleton.
“At the same time, we have younger players who have been involved in a Grand Slam-winning side and a successful three-Test series against some of the best teams in the world earlier this month.
“Selection is probably one of the toughest jobs you do as a coach. This is not just a squad of the 28 players travelling to Ireland, but represents all those who have contributed so much this season to make this the team it is.
“Our focus has always been on going to Ireland to win the Women’s Rugby World Cup. To do that we are going to have to give more than in any competition we’ve played over the past year.”
Hunter added: “It’s a massive honour to captain England in the Women’s Rugby World Cup. It’s a hugely exciting time for everyone and we are now looking forward to getting back out on the training pitch, confident from our performances in New Zealand and ready to build on those and improve again.”
The four most successful teams from the pool stages will qualify for the semi-finals which take place at the Kingspan Stadium, Belfast on Tuesday 22 August, with both games live on ITV4. The final will be held on Saturday 26 August at 7.45pm, again at Kingspan Stadium, and will be broadcast live on ITV4.
England Women 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup squad:
Forwards: Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 4 caps), Sarah Bern (Bristol, 10 caps), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries, 124 caps), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 28 caps), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 25 caps), Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 61 caps), Sarah Hunter (C) (Bristol, 93 caps), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 8 caps), Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 22 caps), Alex Matthews (Richmond, 31 caps), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 46 caps), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 31 caps), Marlie Packer (Bristol, 47 caps), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 17 caps), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 105 caps).
Backs: Rachael Burford (Harlequins, 67 caps), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 37 caps), Megan Jones (Bristol, 4 caps), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 66 caps), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 85 caps), Amber Reed (Bristol, 39 caps), Leanne Riley (Harlequins, 10 caps), Emily Scarratt (VC) (Lichfield, 69 caps), Emily Scott (Saracens, 23 caps), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 34 caps), Danielle Waterman (Bristol, 70 caps), Kay Wilson (Richmond, 44 caps), Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol, 7 caps).
Schedule Pool B
England v Spain
Wednesday 9 August – UCD Bowl, Dublin (KO 2pm)
Live coverage ITV4 from 1.30pm
England v Italy
Sunday 13 August – Billings Park UCD, Dublin (KO 2.30pm)
Live coverage ITV1 from 2pm
England v USA
Thursday 17 August - Billings Park UCD, Dublin (KO 2.30pm)
Live coverage ITV4 from 2pm