Sussex star Breach in England Six Nations squad

Jess Breach is in the England squad for the Women's Six Nations.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:11 am
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 10:12 am
Jess Breach in action for England against Italy last year / Picture: Getty

England Women head coach Simon Middleton has named a 38-player squad for the 2021 tournament and ex-Chichester RFC and Pulborough RFC star Breach is in it.

The Red Roses will assemble in Doncaster on Monday ahead their opening Pool A game against Scotland at Castle Park (Saturday 3 April, KO 3pm, live on BBC iPlayer).

Sarah Hunter returns from a long term injury lay-off to captain the group while Loughborough Lightning teammate Cath O’Donnell is set for her first international action since July 2019. Saracens quartet Hannah Botterman, Bryony Cleall, Vicky Fleetwood and Sarah McKenna, Gloucester-Hartpury duo Zoe Aldcroft and Ellena Perry and Worcester Warriors’ Lydia Thompson return after missing the autumn fixtures through injury.

The group also includes six development players. Front rowers Maud Muir and Flo Long, plus backs Ellie Green, Merryn Doidge, Beth Wilcock and Flo Robinson have been part of Red Roses training squads since the new year and have impressed in the 2020/21 Allianz Premier 15s season to date. They are joined by Flo’s sister Emily Robinson (back rower) who makes her first senior squad.

All 38 players are part of the Six Nations tournament testing protocols which means they can train with the group and are eligible to feature in matchday squads if selected. England have carried out individual risk assessments with players to allow them to work or play for their clubs outside of England camps with further measures put in place to protect the training bubble.

Following the match in Yorkshire, England take on Italy at Stadio Plebiscito, Padova (Saturday 10 April, kick-off 1400 BST and live on BBC iPlayer) before hosting the final play-off match, the first Women’s Six Nations fixture to be broadcast on the main BBC network (Saturday 24 April, KO 1400 BST, BBC Two) with the venue to be confirmed.

The Friday after the tournament concludes, Middleton’s side will travel to Lille to take on France in a Women’s Six Nations exhibition game in their maiden visit to Villeneuve d'Ascq (Friday 30 April, KO 2000 BST, BBC iPlayer).

Sarah Bern (shoulder), Natasha Hunt (ankle), Laura Keates (ACL) and Morwenna Talling (ACL) are ruled out of the tournament by injury.

Head coach Simon Middleton said: “From a performance point of view we’ve been training really hard for a few months now. We have a lot of evidence from training to say we’ve raised our intensity and physicality whilst at the same time developing our ability to execute accurately and make good decisions under the pressure that comes with that type of intensive pressure training, that’s what we want to see when we go into the Scotland game. We want a high tempo, high energy game with quality play off the back of it.

“We have named a wider squad than usual and are able to bring in a number of development players from the pathway. With the pathway being impacted by the pandemic, we saw an opportunity to help support the development of young players, bringing them into senior camps which was a win-win all round and there’s every chance we could see those players feature over the course of the games.

“We’re pleased to have Alex Matthews, Helena Rowland and Megan Jones available given the crossover with the GB Sevens programme. They’ll be with us for varying degrees of the Six Nations and then continue their preparations with the GB set-up.

“This will be our first international since Katy Daley-Mclean’s retirement. It’ll be great to see how our young fly halves, Zoe Harrison and Helena Rowland steer the ship. We’ll have some new half back combinations and it will be interesting to see how they go.

“It feels like we’ve been training for a long time and I think the staff are as desperate for the games as the players are. The players play week-in week-out with the clubs but as a staff group we don’t get that release so it feels like we’ve been preparing forever. We’re all really looking forward to the games and getting into competition mode.”

Forwards

Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 20 caps)

Sarah Beckett (Harlequins Women, 20 caps)

Hannah Botterman (Saracens Women, 20 caps)

Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins Women, 20 caps)

Bryony Cleall (Saracens Women, 1 cap)

Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 43 caps)

Amy Cokayne (Harlequins Women, 53 caps)

Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Women, 56 caps)

Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning, 28 caps)

Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens Women, 76 caps)

Detysha Harper (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)

Sarah Hunter (C; Loughborough Lightning 123 caps)

Flo Long (Worcester Warriors Women, 0 caps)*

Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors Women, 40 caps)

Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps FC Ladies, 58 caps)

Maud Muir (Wasps FC Ladies, 0 caps)*

Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 16 caps)

Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 74 caps)

Ellena Perry (Gloucester-Hartpury, 10 caps)

Emily Robinson (Harlequins Women, 0 caps)

Abbie Ward (Harlequins Women, 45 caps)

Backs

Jess Breach (Harlequins Women, 15 caps)

Merryn Doidge (Exeter Chiefs Women, 0 caps)*

Abby Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 15 caps)

Ellie Green (Harlequins Women, 0 caps)*

Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 27 caps)

Megan Jones (Wasps FC Ladies, 10 caps)

Ellie Kildunne (Wasps FC Ladies, 11 caps)

Claudia MacDonald (Wasps FC Ladies, 12 caps)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens Women, 32 caps)

Amber Reed (Bristol Bears Women, 58 caps)

Leanne Riley (Harlequins Women, 40 caps)

Flo Robinson (Exeter Chiefs, 0 caps)*

Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning, 3 caps)

Emily Scarratt (VC; Loughborough Lighting, 92 caps)

Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors, 46 caps)

Lagi Tuima (Harlequins Women, 6 caps)

Beth Wilcock (Harlequins Women, 0 caps)*