Women's Six Nations: Wales' Rebecca Rowe relishing clash with Richmond team-mates
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 12/03/16 8:41pm
Rebecca Rowe is looking forward to facing her Richmond team-mates as Wales and England clash in the Women's Six Nations, live on Sky Sports on Saturday.
Wales lock Rowe recently signed for Richmond Women, who won the Premiership earlier this year with a 28-17 victory over Saracens in the final.
With three of England's match-day 23 named for the Six Nations fixture hailing from the London club, Rowe is relishing the chance to come up against some familiar faces, and says the mental battles have already begun.
"I'm looking forward to it," Rowe told Sky Sports. "I always wear my Wales kit to training to wind the girls up!
"They always dig at me for being Welsh whenever they can but I always take it on the chin because I beat them, so I've always got that in my back pocket! It's all good banter between everyone."
The victory Rowe holds against her team-mates came in last year's Six Nations, a 13-0 win in Swansea in what was Wales' second ever win over England. Rowe started in that game, but was forced to leave proceedings early with an injury.
"I went off after about 20 minutes," said Rowe. "I sprained my AC joint in my shoulder which was pretty devastating at the time. "I'll just say that I set the tone for the rest of the game!"
The second rower is confident that her side can match last year's feat when they take the field this weekend.
"There's no reason we can't do it again. They will be tough this year, they don't like to lose - especially to Wales!
The majority of the team is the same as last year with the exception of a few new caps who add to the squad.
"I think there was a lot of backlash after that in the press and probably in the RFU as well so I think they will probably be going out to set the record straight.
"But I think we are a better team this year. The majority of the team is the same as last year with the exception of a few new caps who add to the team, and we're stronger and fitter."
In this year's tournament Wales have had mixed results. An opening-round defeat to Ireland was put aside for a win against Scotland before a monumental defensive effort kept France at bay for a 10-8 win that keeps them in the running for the title.
Coach Rhys Edwards has rewarded those involved in the bruising win in Neath by naming an unchanged starting XV for Saturday's game, with only one change to the match-day 23 as Mel Clay replaces Jenny Hawkins on the bench.
England, on the other hand, kicked off their campaign with a 32-0 victory over Scotland, followed by a tough 33-24 win in Italy before seeing off defending champions Ireland 13-9 at Twickenham.
With three wins from three, England sit on top of the standings, and will see victory over third-place Wales as the next step to the title, but it will be a tough encounter to endure.
England's last stop in this year's tournament is in France, but coach Scott Bemand is not looking past Saturday's battle.
"We know what an important game this is," said Bernard. "Wales will come with confidence after their recent win where their defence was impressive to hold off the French.
"The starting XV hold a total of 568 caps between them - that is a significant amount of international experience."
England's starting side sees second row Tamara Taylor earn her 89th cap as she lines up opposite Rowe, while Abbie Scott moves to blindside flanker and Harriet Millar-Mills shifts to the bench.
England women: 15 Katie Mason, 14 Lydia Thompson, 13 Lauren Cattell, 12 Ceri Large, 11 Lotte Clapp, 10 Amber Reed, 9 La Toya Mason, 1 Rochelle Clark, 2 Emma Croker, 3 Vickii Cornborough, 4 Emily Braund, 5 Tamara Taylor, 6 Abbie Scott, 7 Izzy Noel-Smith, 8 Sarah Hunter.
Replacements: 16 Amy Cokayne, 17 Heather Kerr, 18 Bee Dawson, 19 Harriet Millar-Mills, 20 Poppy Leitch, 21 Bianca Blackburn, 22 Poppy Cleall 23 Leanne Riley.
Wales women: 15 Dyddgu Hywel, 14 Bethan Dainton, 13 Hannah Jones, 12 Robyn Wilkins, 11 Elen Evans, 10 Elinor Snowsill, 9 Keira Bevan, 1 Catrin Edwards, 2 Carys Phillips, 3 Megan York, 4 Rebecca Rowe, 5 Shona Powell-Hughes, 6 Rachel Taylor (c), 7 Sian Williams, 8 Sioned Harries.
Replacements: 16 Amy Price, 17 Cerys Hale, 18 Amy Evans, 19 Siwan Lillicrap, 20 Alisha Butchers, 21 Mel Clay, 22 Kerin Lake, 23 Adi Taviner.
Watch England Women take on Wales Women on Sky Sports 5 from 5.55pm on Saturday