Two Rugby World Cup finalists in Tamara Taylor and Shelley Rae will go head to head as they lead their teams in the final of the women’s Super League series this Saturday at Twickenham, kick-off 11.10am.
England and Sharks second rower Tamara Taylor will skipper the North in the showdown against fly-half Shelley Rae’s London outfit. Both players featured in the 2006 IRB Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand which England narrowly lost 25-17.
Both teams also include an array of international players, including the likes of IRB Women’s Personality of the Year Saracens’ Maggie Alphonsi as well as Henley’s Rochelle Clark and Blaydon’s Katy Storie.
Regional side London, coached by England A Women’s assistant coach Martin Hynes, go into the end of season finale as favourites as the only team with an unblemished record this season. They have defeated the Celtics 36-0, the South 19-0 and also inflicted a 17-5 on the North in April. The North meanwhile have recorded two wins from three.
The Super League series was devised to provide a high level of intense competition outside of international and domestic rugby, which consistently tested the skills of England’s top players.
The tournament also forms part of the Rugby Football Union for Women’s player pathway system. Players that have been selected from the regional programme to play in Super League could then be selected to go to High Performance Academies in the summer and then to England trials next season.
North (Head Coach Andy Paton and Assistant Coach Dave Manders)
1 Rochelle Clark (VC) (Henley), 2 Samantha Dale (Worcester), 3 Hannah Shields (Sharks), 4 Tamara Taylor (C) (Sharks), 5 Alexandra Stevens (Lichfield), 6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 7 Sonia Green (Saracens), 8 Sarah Beale (Leos), 9 Harriet Slynn (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (VC) (Sharks), 11 Francesca Matthews (Blaydon), 12 Georgina Roberts (Sharks), 13 Claire Allan (Saracens), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 15 Joanne Watmore (Thirsk). Replacements: 16 Olivia Poore (Lichfield), 17 Katherine Smith (Richmond), 18 Louise Leonard (Blaydon), 19 Abigail Mowbray (Sharks), 20 Sarah Roper (Army), 21 Adrienne McAlpine (Wasps), 22 Sarah Graham (Blaydon).
London (Head Coach Martin Hynes, Assistant Coach Albert Hughes)
1 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 2 Emma Layland (Richmond), 3 Katy Storie (Blaydon), 4 Emma Dresser (Lichfield), 5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Leah Carey (Lichfield), 7 Maggie Alphonsi (vc) (Saracens), 8 Claire Frost (Saracens), 9 Amy Turner (Wasps), 10 Shelley Rae (c) (Wasps), 11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 12 Rachel Burford (Saracens), 13 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 14 Sarah Marsh (Wasps), 15 Charlotte Barras (Lichfield). Replacements: 16 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 17 Monica Lewinska (Clifton), 18 Emma Dorban-Hall (Wasps), 19 Laura Jenkins (Richmond), 20 Abigail Taft (Lichfield), 21 Holly Le Grave (Saracens), 22 Louisa Seymour (Saracens).
A Gutsy performance from both sides