Women’s Six Nations: Sarah Hunter to captain England in final game before retirement; Mackenzie Carson to debut | Rugby Union News
Sarah Hunter to captain England in Women’s Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday, her final game before retirement; England hand debut to former Canada prop Mackenzie Carson; lock Rosie Galligan will sit out entire tournament with hamstring injury sustained in training
Last Updated: 22/03/23 5:07pm
Retiring Sarah Hunter will captain her country for the final time in the Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday, while former Canada prop Mackenzie Carson will make her Red Roses debut.
Hunter announced her retirement from rugby earlier this week and will bow out in her native Newcastle with a record-extending 141st cap.
The 37-year-old – the world’s most-capped women’s player and England’s most-capped player across men’s and women’s rugby – will take her usual place at No 8.
Saracens star Carson, 24, is eligible for Red Roses selection by virtue of having an English mother and will now play for a second nation having made three appearances for Canada, including one against England in 2018.
World Rugby’s birth right transfer rules allow a capped player to switch allegiance to another country they are eligible to play for following a three-year stand-down period.
Carson will join fellow prop Sarah Bern and hooker Amy Cokayne in the front row, while Liz Crake, Kelsey Clifford and Ella Wyrwas could all earn their first caps after being named among the substitutes.
Lock Rosie Galligan will miss the entire Six Nations after sustaining a hamstring injury in training last week, while scrum-half Natasha Hunt will sit out the Scotland match due to a calf injury.
Hunter feels there is more to come in professional women’s rugby and says further investment will push the game forward.
Head coach Simon Middleton, who will step down after the Six Nations, said: “There has been a brilliant atmosphere in camp and with a mix of new and experienced players, there is a real buzz. A number of players are in line to earn their first caps, and this is an excellent and deserved opportunity.
“This is a very new squad and they have been asked to train hard and learn fast over the last three weeks. This week we’ve really been able to see the cohesion starting to develop and we can’t wait for the team to get out there on Saturday.
“Six Nations fixtures and games against Scotland are always special occasions and we know [Scotland head coach] Bryan (Easson) will have prepared his side well.
“All of our players and staff can’t wait to get to the North East and play in front of a sell-out crowd where hopefully we can put on a show and get our Six Nations campaign up and running.”
England team to play Scotland
15. Abby Dow (Harlequins, 30 caps)
14. Jess Breach (Saracens, 24 caps)
13. Lagi Tuima (Harlequins, 12 caps)
12. Amber Reed (Bristol Bears, 62 caps)
11. Claudia MacDonald (Exeter Chiefs, 24 caps)
10. Holly Aitchison (Saracens, 15 caps)
9. Lucy Packer (Harlequins, 9 caps)
1. Mackenzie Carson (Saracens, uncapped)
2. Amy Cokayne (Harlequins, 70 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Bristol Bears, 52 caps)
4. Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester-Hartpury, 38 caps)
5. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 63 caps)
6. Sadia Kabeya (Loughborough Lightning, 8 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (CC; Saracens, 89 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (CC; Loughborough Lightning, 140 caps)
16. Lark Davies (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
17. Liz Crake (Wasps, uncapped)
18. Kelsey Clifford (Saracens, uncapped)
19. Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning, 24 caps)
20. Sarah Beckett (Gloucester-Hartpury, 25 caps)
21. Ella Wyrwas (Saracens, uncapped)
22. Tatyana Heard (Gloucester-Hartpury, 9 caps)
23. Emma Sing (Gloucester-Hartpury, 2 caps)