Thompson and Matthews start for England Women

Lydia Thompson and Alex Matthews have both been named in England Women’s starting line-up for this Sunday’s autumn international against New Zealand at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 2.45pm, live on BBC Two).

Thompson will be just one appearance away from making her 50th cap when she pulls on the Red Roses jersey this weekend, while Matthews is also closing in on the milestone as she packs down in the back-row alongside Marlie Packer. Flo Long has been selected as non-playing reserve, the prop gaining invaluable experience in and around an elite set-up.

Sunday’s match is the second of back-to-back between the top two ranked teams in the world, with the Red Roses recording a 43-12 victory over the Black Ferns at Sandy Park.

“Alex Matthews comes into the starting XV, while Zoe Harrison and Helena Rowland have combined at ten and 12 for club and country previously, so we’re looking forward to seeing how they go again,” said England Head Coach Simon Middleton.

“We were absolutely delighted with the performance and the result last week. We were really proud of the players, and it was a privilege to be part of such a special occasion at Sandy Park.

“We know that this weekend is another huge game, but it’s one we’ve prepared well for in Northampton and it’s that preparation that gives us the confidence and belief that we can perform not only to the same level, but hopefully even higher this weekend.”

Sixways Stadium will host England’s final match of the autumn series on Sunday 21 November, the last opportunity to see the Red Roses in action in 2021 as they take on USA.

England v USA
Sunday 21 November, KO 2.45pm
Sixways Stadium, Worcester
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England Women team to play New Zealand

15 Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins, 16 caps)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 48 caps)
13 Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 1 cap)
12 Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 7 caps)
11 Abby Dow (Wasps, 19 caps)
10 Zoe Harrison (Saracens, 31 caps)
9 Leanne Infante (VC; Bristol Bears, 45 caps)

1 Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 61 caps)
2 Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 58 caps)
3 Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 37 caps)
4 Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 25 caps)
5 Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears, 48 caps)
6 Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors, 42 caps)
7 Marlie Packer (Saracens, 77 caps)
8 Poppy Cleall (C; Saracens, 48 caps)


16 Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 32 caps)
17 Hannah Botterman (Saracens, 23 caps)
18 Maud Muir (Wasps, 1 cap)
19 Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps, 63 caps)
20 Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, 127 caps)
21 Claudia MacDonald (Wasps, 16 caps)
22 Lagi Tuima (Harlequins, 9 caps)
23 Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 37 caps)

NPR: Florence Long (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)