Women’s Rugby World Cup: England make two changes for final

Women's Rugby World Cup: England recall Marlie Packer and Natasha Hunt for final against Canada

England star Danielle Waterman Photo: Isabelle Piracel

Wasps flanker Marlie Packer returns to the England starting XV to face Canada in Sunday’s Women’s Rugby World Cup final.

England head coach Gary Street has made two changes from the side that crushed Ireland 40-7 in the semi-finals, with Lichfield scrum-half Natasha Hunt also recalled for the clash at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris.

Rugby World Cup finals are obviously very special but we are genuinely just thinking about playing Canada as just another game. We have to

Gary Street

Packer, 24, came off the bench to score twice for England against Ireland to join Kay Wilson as the tournament’s leading try-scorer on four and is preferred to Richmond’s Alexandra Matthews, who drops to the bench.

“It was immensely tough to select this team,” Street said. “We have 26 players fit and everyone is in a really good place freshness wise so it was a very difficult call. We have had 27 players part of this World Cup experience and with one game to go it is always going to be very tough on those not selected.

“Marlie has been a great impact player this tournament. She is fresh having only played 20 minutes over the last two games so we are expecting her to add a lot of energy into our back row.

“Natasha has also had a fantastic tournament and is also fresh from the semi-final having only just come on in the second half. She adds a real pace to our game which I think is going to be hugely important.”

Worcester prop Rochelle Clark wins her 95th cap in her third consecutive Women’s Rugby World Cup final with Bristol full-back Danielle Waterman also set for a third final appearance.

François Ratier’s Canada came from behind with second-half tries from Elissa Alarie and Magali Harvey to earn a thrilling 18-16 win over hosts France to book a second clash with England in eight days after their 13-13 draw in the pool phase.

“Playing Canada in the pool stages, although it was very tough, was very useful,” Street added.

“They really brought their A game to that match and we didn’t perform as we wanted to. However, the errors that we made then we have learned from and we showed that in our performance against Ireland.

“Rugby World Cup finals are obviously very special but we are genuinely just thinking about playing Canada as just another game. We have to. In 2010 we felt a real weight of expectation going into the final and we have learned a lot from that experience.”

England XV to face Canada: Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Thurrock), Kay Wilson (Bristol); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), Marlie Packer (Wasps), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield, vice-captain)

Replacements: Emma Croker (Richmond), Laura Keates (Worcester), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), La Toya Mason (Wasps), Ceri Large (Worcester), Claire Allan (Richmond).

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