Harpenden’s Sarah McKenna named as part of England’s World Cup defence bid

Sarah McKenna. Picture: RUGBYMATTERS.NET

Sarah McKenna. Picture: RUGBYMATTERS.NET - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s Sarah McKenna has been named by the RFU as one of 18 with a full-time contract in the England Women Elite Player Squad (EPS) for this season.

The Saracens player, who went to Roundwood Park and Grove Junior schools and played for the town’s rugby club, will play a key role in the team’s defence of their World Cup crown next year in Ireland.

In total 54 players have been named in the EPS, split across full-time, part-time, short-term and non-contracted players.

Both the full and part-time squads train at Bisham Abbey, with additional camps held in other training venues around the country.

It is expected that some players will compete on both the 15s and sevens circuit.

Eight of the 12-player Team GB Olympic squad will return to the 15s programme this season, including Team GB captain Emily Scarratt alongside fellow 2014 World Cup winners and Olympians Claire Allan, Natasha Hunt, Katy Mclean and Danielle Waterman.

The EPS will prepare for four autumn internationals before the Six Nations championship and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, in which England will seek qualification for the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.

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England Women’s head coach Simon Middleton said: “With less than 12 months to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, the focus for the EPS this year will be very much on the 15-a-side game. We believe everyone in this squad has the potential to make the World Cup.

“This season is about going out and winning against the best. We start with a very tough series of tests.

“Every one of the teams involved this November will have well-founded ambitions to win the World Cup next year and we want to lay down some markers.”


Full time contracts - 18

Claire Allan (Saracens)

Abbie Brown (Bristol)

Rachael Burford (n/a)

Amy Cokayne (Lichfield)

Heather Fisher (n/a)

Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)

Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)

Megan Jones (Bristol)

Alex Matthews (Richmond)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens)

Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park)

Marlie Packer (Bristol)

Amber Reed (Bristol)

Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)

Emily Scott (Thurrock)

Danielle Waterman (Bristol)

Kay Wilson (Richmond)

Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol)

Part time - 9

Natasha Brennan (n/a)

Lauren Cattell (Saracens)

Lotte Clapp (Saracens)

Deborah Fleming (Saracens)

Katie Mason (Bristol)

Fran Matthews (Richmond)

Kelly Smith (Worcester Valkyries)

Millie Wood (Lichfield)

Rachael Woosey (Darlington Mowden Park)

Short Term - 11

Emily Braund (Lichfield)

Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries)

Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls)

Sarah Hunter (Bristol)

Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries)

LaToya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park)

Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)

Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol)

Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park)

Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park)

Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries)

Non Contracted - 16

Sasha Acheson (Bristol)

Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park)

Sarah Bern (Bristol)

Bianca Blackburn (Worcester Valkyries)

Poppy Cleall (Bristol)

Emma Croker (Richmond)

Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries)

Abby Dow (Wasps)

Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park)

Ceri Large (Worcester Valkyries)

Poppy Leitch (Bristol)

Justine Lucas (Lichfield)

Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls)

Alice Richardson (n/a)

Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls)

Joanne Watmore (n/a)