Red Roses name expanded squad ahead of Rugby World Cup - Ruck

Red Roses name expanded squad ahead of Rugby World Cup

Head coach Simon Middleton has named a 37-player pre-season training squad in the run up to the Rugby World Cup.

The squad will come together at the University of Bath on Monday for the first of three mini-training camps throughout July. They will then take part in further camps in August to build-up to two September Internationals against USA and Wales. 

Scrum-half Claudia MacDonald has been included in the selection after sustaining a possibly career ending neck injury which kept her out of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

When asked about her return, Middleton said:

“Thankfully for Claudia the scan she had a while ago showed a fantastic improvement, to be able to add a player of Claudia’s ability and quality to the squad is a real boost for us at this stage. Her ability to play wing also adds even greater depth to the squad and provides some essential versatility.”

Another stands out selection comes from Abby Dow. The England winger sustained a broken leg in the TikTok Women’s Six Nation’s match against Wales back in April but has been confirmed to be continuing her rehab alongside the team throughout the pre-season period.

With the addition of Abby into the squad, all 30 England contracted players have been included in this pre-season selection.

The squad features a raft of young fresh talent, as well as some well vetted internationals. After having impressive breakthrough campaigns 20-year-old Maud Muir and 21-year-old Emma Sing both make marks on the team sheet, whilst Cath O-Donnel and Morwenna Talling both slot back in after returning from long term injuries.

Middleton is set to have a tough job on his hands in a few months’ time, as World Rugby have outlined teams will only be able to take 32 players with them to New Zealand, meaning five players named in this squad will miss out. This is still a notable increase from the 28-player squad’s seen at previous competitions.  

When asked about the possibility of campaigning to increase that number, the head coach dismissed the idea, hinting those other nations might not have the same depth of players to be able to facilitate taking a bigger group over to New Zealand.

The significant concussion protocol changes from World Rugby, which takes effect from today, will mean that players now face an increased minimum cooling off period of 12 days, following a review of scientific evidence. This new law could have a sizeable impact on the game and how it is managed, placing more pressure on player versatility.

As the 100 day mark for the start of the tournament is passed, the guidelines around both covid and isolation still remain unclear for this year’s World Cup.

The England rugby coach has made it clear that this squad is not fully cemented, and there is room for movement:

“There are a number of players not named in the squad who are world class players”

“We can only have a certain amount in camp, for a number of reasons, but the door isn’t shut on anyone”

Full list of players included below:

Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Sarah Beckett (Harlequins)
Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears)
Hannah Botterman (Saracens)
Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins)
Bryony Cleall (Wasps)
Poppy Cleall (Saracens)
Amy Cokayne (Harlequins)
Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins)
Lark Davies (Bristol Bears)  
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)
Rosie Galligan (Harlequins)*
Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning)
Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning)*
Alex Matthews (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Maud Muir (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning)
Marlie Packer (Saracens)
Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
Morwenna Talling (Loughborough Lightning)*
Abbie Ward (Bristol Bears)

Holly Aitchison (Saracens)
Jess Breach (Harlequins)
Abby Dow (Wasps)
Zoe Harrison (Saracens)
Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Natasha Hunt (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
Ellie Kildunne (Harlequins)
Claudia MacDonald (Wasps)*
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Lucy Packer (Harlequins)
Amber Reed (Bristol Bears)
Leanne Infante (Bristol Bears) 
Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning)
Emily Scarratt (Loughborough Lightning)
Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury)*
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors)

*denotes non-contracted player