'Jamie George in Camp' - 5 Talking Points: Red Roses Press Conference Ahead of Wales Women's Six Nations Clash - Ruck

‘Jamie George in Camp’ – 5 Talking Points: Red Roses Press Conference Ahead of Wales Women’s Six Nations Clash

The Red Roses are gearing up for their second round of the 2024 Women’s Six Nations, as they get set to host Wales at Bristol’s Ashton Gate. England come into this match off the back of a one-sided victory over Italy, as John Mitchell’s side handed the Azzurri a heavy 48-0 defeat to open up their campaign.

Mitchell was joined as normal by his Red Roses captain Marlie Packer today, and the duo addressed the media ahead of their second round battle. There is palpable excitement heading into this Anglo-Welsh clash, with the localised venue of Ashton Gate set to bring in over 18,000 fans from either side of the River Severn, and set a new attendance record for a Red Roses match not held at Twickenham.

England fans celebrate a try during the TikTok Womens Six Nations match between England Women and Wales Women at Kingsholm Stadium on April 9 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Mitchell cleared up a couple of updates, as Helena Rowland is out for the clash with Wales with a finger injury. Amy Cokayne is back in the training group after returning from injury, yet the front rower misses out on the match-day 23 to play Wales.

From having England men’s captain Jamie George visiting the Red Roses camp, to the ongoing re-shuffle in Mitchell’s midfield, here are the five biggest talking points from today’s press conference.


Mitchell and Packer discussed how they had a special visitor in the camp this week, as England men’s captain Jamie George appeared at Pennyhill Park. The front-rower was said to have participated in some competitive matches of darts with the Red Roses, and helped out in a hookers’ line-out masterclass, as Lark Atkin-Davies, Connie Powell, Amy Cokayne and May Campbell were all in camp.

JOHN MITCHELL: “Obviously, I’ve worked with Jamie before, he’s a good human being. It didn’t. It wasn’t forced, he connected out to me, I’ve kept in touch with him, since my departure as a coach, and obviously wished him well for the Six Nations, and those kind of things.

“And even way back he just said look, yeah, when I got this role, he said, ‘If you ever need any help with the girls just say’. So he was the one that actually encouraged it for this situation. And we made it work, and I think the girls enjoyed it.”

“We’ve (Mitchell and George) been speaking about it two weeks ago, around the timing of coming in. “

No, it’s just the throwers. I think the guys can offer a lot, and we can have good cross-pollination between the specialist players. So it’s not something that we’ll try and do in abundance but we you know, the nines will also probably benefit from you know, from some kicking connections as well. So yeah, I think it’s a starting point, which is fantastic.”

MARLIE PACKER: “I really enjoyed it (the darts tournament). Jamie came in off the back of it. Because they did a couple of competitive games within the training session, yeah, we did enjoy it.”

“I think just as and when it happens with it, we don’t want to force it like they’ve obviously got their own programmes the same as ours, and the timing needs to be right for both. Because you don’t want someone being in (camp) that doesn’t want to be there. So you want them to be there, but also that club connection as well.

“Like Jamie’s also been doing some work with me at Saracens. So it’s not all in test level. So it’s not just about here at the Red Roses with Jamie, it’s also Saracens, the work that he’s been doing with me there. I think like obviously other players see that being done, they want to be doing it with their girls, I know Bristol Bears do a lot with them. So actually, it’s just really good.”

“I wished him luck at the beginning of the (Six Nations) tournament and the same other way round. A few of them text me for my 100th cap and wished me good luck. Not too much about being captain.”


After making her triumphant return from an MCL injury last weekend, England lock Zoe Aldcroft is getting set to achieve a career milestone against Wales. Aldcroft will run out for her 50th career cap, as Wales make the short trip over the bridge and descend upon Ashton Gate.

Zoe Aldcroft of England Red Roses before the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23rd Sept 2023. Photo: Izzy Ninnis/PPAUK

The Gloucester-Hartpury talent is well versed with the Wales squad, as 13 of her teammates were named in Ioan Cunningham’s Women’s Six Nations playing group. Speaking on the accomplishment of the lock, Packer, Mitchell and back-row Sadia Kebeya shared their thoughts.

JOHN MITCHELL: “She’s come back from a huge injury. It probably wasn’t the way we planned her to go to the tone of it, but it just sort of demonstrates her capacity to go the distance. Yeah, she’s a world class lock. She demonstrated that consistently last year. And she demonstrated that again, on the weekend. She’s got a huge capacity, huge competitor loves a contest. And you know, we’re very fortunate to have her on our team.”

Zoe Aldcroft of England Red Roses on the break during the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23rd Sept 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

MARLIE PACKER: “She’s a massive competitor, true Red Rose, everything she does is at the forefront of being able to then put the best performance on the pitch. She’s like a Springer Spaniel in training when we’re doing walkthroughs at line-outs. And, you know, we’re letting the opposition take the ball, she always always the first one up with her hands stealing the ball. She can’t help herself! And you know, when she speaks the girls listen.”

SADIA KEBEYA: “Yeah, Zoe is definitely not a spotlight person. So I think she’ll just kind of keep it under wraps. Probably until the day of the game, but Zoe Aldcroft, she’s such a leader up in the England squad and I think she shows that week in, week out, you know, and training her standard never drops.

Zoe Aldcroft of England Women during the autumn international match between England Women and New Zealand Women at Sandy Park on 31 Oct 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“On the game days, I think she always shows up. So I think for her, the squad is incredibly proud of her as well. But she’s really come into a leadership role over the passed four seasons with England, be it with through vice captain, I think she’s someone who leads by example, leads by her actions more so than what she says.

“So I think on the day, there’ll be a lot of celebrations, you know, being able to receive that cap but also, I think the team will really come around her after the game. You don’t want too much attention pre-game.”