Valkyries pair to start for England

Valkyries pair Lydia Thompson and Lark Davies will start for England Women in their historic first match against Barbarians Women at Twickenham on Sunday (kick-off 12.45pm).

Wing Thompson returns to England duty having missed the Six Nations through injury although she returned to club duty with Valkyries towards the end of their Tyrrells Premier 15s season.

Valkyries hooker Davies, an England regular this season, will also start in the match which forms the first part of a double-header with England men meeting their Barbarians counterparts later in the day.

Thompson and Davies will find themselves in the unusual position of playing against their Valkyries team-mates Jasmine Joyce and Laura Keates.

Wales wing Joyce, who scored four tries on her Barbarians debut against USA recently, will start for the invitation side with Keates, the experienced England tighthead prop, among the replacements.

“This is the first time England Women have played the Barbarians and we know it will be a fantastic occasion,” said England Women Head Coach Simon Middleton.

“The Barbarians side is really experienced with 946 caps between the players which will make the game a real challenge.  The Red Roses want to play the best possible teams and a Barbarians side with this level of strength and depth will guarantee a testing encounter.

“Our last run out at Twickenham against Scotland in the Six Nations produced an incredibly impressive performance by the team and although we’re fielding a very changed side, with several players out due to injury, Sunday’s game will be a great opportunity for younger players to step up.

“This match is an important next step in our summer tour preparations and in the longer term as we build up to the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021.”

England Women

Starters
15 Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries)
13 Lagi Tuima (Bristol Bears Women)
12 Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women)
11 Kelly Smith (Gloucester-Hartbury Women’s RFC)
10 Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women)
9 Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies)

1 Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women)
2 Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries)
3 Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears Women)
4 Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC)
5 Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies)
6 Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women)
7 Jo Brown (Loughborough Lightning)
8 Sarah Hunter (Captain) (Loughborough Lightning)

Finishers
16 Clara Nielson (Bristol Bears Women)
17 Ellena Perry (Saracens Women)
18 Chloe Edwards (Harlequins Ladies)
19 Rosie Galligan (Saracens Women)
20 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond FC)
21 Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartbury Women’s RFC)
22 Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartbury Women’s RFC)
23 Carys Williams (Loughborough Lightning)