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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

England's Catherine Spencer focused on Six Nations win


Girls gear up for Women's Six Nations

England Women captain Catherine Spencer believes her side will face their most difficult Six Nations ever as they aim for a record fifth successive title.

The tournament begins in Esher on Saturday as England attempt to avenge last year's 16-15 away defeat by Wales.

"I have no doubt that this Six Nations will be tougher and more competitive than ever," said Spencer.

England will also have home advantage in August when they try to end New Zealand's World Cup dominance.

The Black Ferns have won the last three tournaments, but were beaten 10-3 on their visit to Twickenham on 21 November.


Spencer, who scored the only try of that win, believes the Six Nations will be the perfect preparation to help her side go one better than the runners-up medals they secured in 2002 and 2006.

"This is a very special year for us with the World Cup only six months away," said the Bristol number eight.

"Certainly our first aim is to perform as well as we possibly can in the Six Nations, but I know all the teams involved will using this tournament to prove themselves as we get closer to the World Cup."

England head coach Gary Street has largely kept faith with the side who beat New Zealand for their Six Nations opener.

Winger Fiona Pocock and scrum-half La Toya Mason replace Charlotte Barras and Amy Turner respectively in the only changes to the starting line-up.

England team to play Wales: Claire Allan; Katherine Merchant, Emily Scarratt, Rachael Burford, Fiona Pocock; Katy Mclean, La Toya Mason; Claire Purdy, Amy Garnett, Sophie Hemming; Rebecca Essex, Joanna McGilchrist; Heather Fisher, Margaret Alphonsi, Catherine Spencer (capt).
Replacements: Samantha Reeve, Rochelle Clark, Rowena Burnfield, Tamara Taylor, Georgina Rozario, Alice Richardson, Michaela Staniford.

Women's Six Nations fixtures:
5 Feb: Ireland v Italy (Ashbourne RFC)
6 Feb: England v Wales (Esher), Scotland v France (Lasswade RFC)
12 Feb: France v Ireland (Blois)
13 Feb: Italy v England (Noceto)
14 Feb: Wales v Scotland (Bridgend)
28 Feb: Wales v France (Bridgend), Italy v Scotland (Colleferro), England v Ireland (Esher)
12 Mar: Ireland v Wales (Ashbourne RFC)
13 Mar: Scotland v England (Meggetland RFC), France v Italy (Montpellier)
19 Mar: Ireland v Scotland (Ashbourne RFC), France v England (Rennes)
21 Mar: Wales v Italy (Bridgend)

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see also
Wales rally after World Cup shock
26 Nov 09 |  Welsh
England's women delight rugby HQ
24 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
England Women beat world champs
21 Nov 09 |  English
England Women win to retain title
21 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales Women 16-15 England Women
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union on the BBC
05 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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