Rocky and co hit by injury setbacks
WITH Chesham Grammar School coach Rochelle Clark on the replacements bench for the England squad set to open their World Cup defence in Dublin yesterday, the holders were dealing with an eve-of-tournament blow.
Saracens fly-half Emily Scott suffered an injury which has ruled her out of the tournament and clubmate Vicky Fleetwood has also picked up a knock.
Hooker Fleetwood was this week set to undergo treatment with the aim of linking up with the Red Roses as soon as possible. But the inju- ry to Scott denied her the chance to be part of England’s title defence and she has been replaced by Bristol Ladies’ Poppy Cleall.
Chesham Stags coach Clark – part of England’s victorious squad in France three years ago and preparing for her fourth World Cup as England’s most capped international in the sport – was set to be benched against the Spanish at the UCD Bowl, University College Dublin, yesterday.
Tournament favourites England, involved in the final of every women’s World Cup since the competi- tion’s inception in 1991, were fancied to extend their World Cup streak to 10 matches unbeaten, against a Spain side ranked eighth.
England continue the group at Billings Park, University College on Sunday (ko 2.30pm) against an Italian side ranked one place below Spain and making their first appearance at the finals in 15 years.
Italy qualified automatically, ahead of Scotland, after their performances at the 2015 and 2016 Six Nations but have never managed to get the better of the Red Roses in 15 attempts.
And Simon Middleton’s side conclude the group stage at Billings Park next Thursday against a US side ranked seventh in the world.
England have won 14 games against the Eagles since losing to them in 1991, at the first women’s World Cup final.
Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Clark