Women’s Six Nations 2023: England v France

Women’s Six Nations 2023: England v France

Marlie Packer is helped from the field by a medic and a water-carrier
Marlie Packer left the field injured during England’s round-four victory against Ireland
TikTok Women’s Six Nations – England v France
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Saturday, 29 April Kick-off: 13:00 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC Two, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app; listen on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra and follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

England captain Marlie Packer is fit for Saturday’s Grand Slam decider against France in the final weekend of the 2023 Women’s Six Nations.

Flanker Packer, 33, and prop Hannah Botterman, 23, were injury concerns after last weekend’s win in Ireland but both will start at Twickenham.

Helena Rowland is at outside centre as Lagi Tuima drops out of the squad while Lucy Packer starts at scrum-half.

Prop Sarah Bern and hooker Lark Davies also return to the starting line-up.

Sarah Beckett – omitted from last year’s World Cup squad – is retained in the second row after a player-of-the-match performance against Ireland and Poppy Cleall is included on the bench as she returns from injury.

  • Told nobody would watch, now 53,000 are turning up

Crowd that defies expectations

England are seeking a fifth successive Women’s Six Nations title and will be watched by a crowd of more than 53,000 in their first standalone Test at Twickenham.

That figure will surpass the record for a women’s rugby crowd of 42,579, for England’s World Cup final defeat against New Zealand at Eden Park in 2022.

Earlier in that World Cup, England claimed an 11th victory in a row against France with a tight 13-7 win in the pool stage.

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England head coach Simon Middleton – who will step down after Saturday’s game – said of the ticket sales: “I’m not sure we were expecting it to be as big as what it is.

“Hopefully that’s because the team and the competition have grabbed the imagination of the public.”

England lead the standings with four bonus-point wins and a points difference of 218. France are second with 19 points and a points difference of 140. Wales are third with 10 points, Scotland fourth with five, Italy fifth with four and Ireland bottom with no points

Packer is included in the team despite spraining her ankle against Ireland while Middleton said Botterman initially appeared to have suffered “a significant knee injury” last weekend.

“We got a second opinion and he was convinced it was an old injury that could very easily have been interpreted as a new injury,” Middleton added.

“She’s been managed through the week, as has Marlie. It was a very painful injury originally but she’s good.”

Saracens back row Packer is certain she is ready for what will be England’s toughest test of the Women’s Six Nations.

“I’ve done a different training load this week from the rest of the squad but I’ve come through what I need to be at my best for this week,” she said.

France’s team for Saturday will be named on Thursday morning.

England: Kildunne; Dow, Rowland, Heard, MacDonald; Aitchison, L Packer; Botterman, Davies, Bern; Aldcroft, Beckett; Kabeya, M Packer (capt), Matthews.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Muir, Cleall, Talling, Hunt, Reed, Breach.

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