Red Roses even scarier at Twickenham as they make most of wide pitch in Ireland rout

Ellie Kildunne of England is tackled by Aoife Dalton of Ireland
England's Ellie Kildunne tries to power through - Getty Images/Steve Bardens

England Women 88 Ireland Women 10

This was a Twickenham training session for England, who delivered a ruthless performance at the home of English rugby with a 14-try thumping of Ireland. They will go to Bordeaux next week where only their French neighbours will be able to thwart their hopes of landing a sixth consecutive Six Nations title. Given the way this team is playing, that looks unlikely.

It seemed almost cruel that Ireland were facing the domineering Red Roses so soon after their ego-boosting win over Wales last week. They never had a chance to build on that momentum after being pulverised by an England outfit who looked even more dangerous than usual on the wide pitch in front of a 48,778-strong crowd.

You wonder whether the bumper attendances will keep coming if England are going to continually slaughter opposition with such ease. Yet John Mitchell, the head coach, was unequivocal in his belief that the Red Roses fanbase would only continue to swell.

“We’ve got a drive to fill the stadium on a consistent basis because we want to play here consistently,” said the New Zealander. “If we can continue to produce performances like that it won’t be too long before we do fill all the little green seats at the top.”

His side were undeniably energised by the attendance. While at times the atmosphere felt palpably flatter than the headline Grand Slam fixture against France last year, on the pitch England’s performance never waned.

They set about painting a tapestry on the hallowed Twickenham turf and barely dropped any stitches, their colourful attack creating hat-tricks for Abby Dow and Ellie Kildunne as well as two tries apiece for Jess Breach and Meg Jones as their phenomenal back-line reigned supreme.

Dow’s first two scores dovetailed a relentless first half that yielded half-a-dozen tries. The winger showed her innate strength to score near identical tries in the corner after shrugging off Lauren Delaney and Brittany Hogan. It was a microcosm of Ireland’s torrid defensive effort – the visitors missed 61 tackles compared to England’s six – but it was the manner in which the hosts went about carving open the floundering green machine that was most impressive.

Lark Atkin-Davies’ direct run to set up Dow’s opener was emulated by Natasha Hunt’s break moments later, a move which the scrum-half finished off herself as she sniped over the whitewash (Hunt enjoyed one of her sharpest performances in an England shirt). Soon after Meg Jones and Zoe Aldcroft finished under the posts. By the time Sophie Ellis-Bextor took centre stage with a half-time performance of ‘Murder on The Dancefloor’, it was 38-3. Not so subtle.

The manner in which England continued to carve open Ireland was further confirmation of how they have moved away from their maul-heavy game. Their forwards were in full flight, with Sadia Kabeya delivering a standout performance that saw her being deployed as an effective distributor in the outside channels. At 22-years-old, the blindside flanker has already singled herself out as a leader of this Red Roses side, having captained England at points throughout this campaign and shown her versatility by playing on both flanks. Few can match what she provides on both sides of the ball and her 48th-minute try – bulldozing her way over from close range – was no less than she deserved.

So too, was the speed at which the Red Roses recycled the ball from a lineout deep in the red zone in the build-up to Kildunne’s first. England’s lethal try-scoring machine, whose trio of scores brought her championship total up to nine, spent the entire afternoon snake-hipping her way through green shirts in a performance that illustrated why she can realise her ambition of becoming “the best player in the world”. In a sobering snapshot of her elusiveness, she made more than 190 metres before the break.

It is a mark of this superhuman England side that they showed no signs of wilting. Even as Mitchell unloaded his bench, his personnel continued blooming. When the excellent Tatyana Heard – whose deep angled offloads to Holly Aitchison outfoxed Ireland all game – made way for Emily Scarratt on the hour mark, the tempo ceased to drop. The veteran Red Roses centre engineered a sublime hack upfield that unleashed a racing Kildunne for her third.

Ireland were poor. This is a side in the throes of a rebuild, but their holy trinity of winger Katie Corrigan, flanker Aoife Wafer and fly-half O’Brien were dissolved by a wall of white. Having failed to register any points against England since 2019, O’Brian’s penalty and a second-half penalty try after the break, when Lucy Packer was penalised for bringing down a maul, were small wins. “Tough day at the office,” said Scott Bemand, who described his side as “shellshocked” at times against a side that has scored 242 points in their four championship matches.

You have to tip your hat to the Rugby Football Union for the way in which they have marketed another landmark occasion despite the fact England were hardly tested. “I’m sure some people will chat about the competitiveness,” said Mitchell. “At the end of the day, we drive ourselves. That’s all we can focus on.”

Match details

Scores: 5-0 Dow try, 10-0 Hunt try, 12-0 Aitchison con, 17-0 Jones try, 19-0 Aitchison con, 24-0 Aldcroft try, 26-0 Aitchison con, 26-3 O’Brian pen, 31-3 Kildunne try, 33-3 Aitchison con, 38-3 Dow try, 43-3 Breach try, 48-3 Kabeya try, 50-3 Aitchison con, 50-10 penalty try, 55-10 Breach try, 57-10 Aitchison con, 62-10 Dow try, 64-10 Aitchison con, 69-10 Kildunne try, 71-10 Aitchison con, 76-10 Breach try, 78-10 Aitchison con, 83-10 Kildunne try, 88-10 Feuanati try.
England: E Kildunne; A Dow, M Jones (S Gregson 67), T Heard (E Scarratt 60), J Breach; H Aitchison, N Hunt (L Packer 49); H Botterman (M Carson 45), L Atkin-Davies (C Powell 34), M Muir (K Clifford 49 (L Hanlon 75), M Talling (L Hanlon 75), Z Aldcroft, S Kabeya, M Packer (M Feaunati 58), A Matthews.
Yellow card: L Packer. 
Ireland: L Delaney (M Deely 40); K Corrigan, E Higgins (E Breen 40), A Dalton, B Parsons; D O’Brien, A Reilly (M Scuffil-McCabe 59); L Djougang (S McGrath 59), N Jones (C Moloney 44), C Haney (N O’Dowd 48), D Wall, H O’Connor, A Wafer, E McMahon, B Hogan (S Ikahihifo 55). 
Replacements not used: D Wall 
Attendance: 48,778 
Referee: A Groizeleau

England thrash Ireland: As it happened...

04:33 PM BST

England forwards coach Louis Deacon talking to the BBC

“The girls never cease to amaze us. The way they go about their business, they work really hard and it all came together today.

“I think the mindset changed this week because we know what’s coming and that’s why we had the performance we did today.

On Lucy Packer’s yellow card:

“I’m a little bit frustrated we conceded there and Lucy took the hit, she was just trying to stop them from going over.

“We do prepare for these scenarios and if that unfairness happens we’re always ready for it. It’s the way the game is. We want to fill this stadium top tier and we have the opportunity to do that ahead of the World Cup.”

04:29 PM BST

Ireland head coach Scott Bemand speaking to the BBC

“The Irish girls are quite young and coming into an occasion like this, the girls have to learn to handle it. We probably looked a bit young out there.

“We’re taking steps to where we want to get do. It won’t happen overnight.  The girls were a bit rocked in terms of energy. Technically and tactically, it was what it was.

“We’ll take our learnings from this. There’s a big game coming next week so we go again.”

Ireland's players acknowledge fans at the end of the Six Nations international women's rugby union match between England and Ireland at Twickenham
Ireland were on the receiving end of a hammering this afternoon - Justin Tallis/Getty Images

04:24 PM BST

England winger Abby Dow speaking to the BBC

“We’ve got a real drive and we always want to do more. It’s an incredible feeling to be part of a team that is playing rugby in such a fantastic way.

“[John] Mitchell is always asking us new questions and setting us new bounds. We’re always thinking about where our limit is and what the best version of ourselves is both individually and as one.

“We played the options we could and to the best of our ability. We showed up as one, we played as one.”

England's Abby Dow makes a break to score her team's eighth try
Abby Dow (pictured) scored a hat-trick this afternoon - Paul Harding/Getty Images

04:20 PM BST

England centre Meg Jones talking to the BBC

“At the beginning we said we wanted to attack. I can’t believe Ellie has got Player of the Match for the third time.

“Everyone just did their role really well. In order for us to be incredible we all have to work together, we can be great individually but we have to bring it together.

“Our connections are getting stronger each game.”

England centre Megan Jones scores a try
Meg Jones (pictured) scored a double today - Justin Tallis/Getty Images

04:15 PM BST

Player of the match Ellie Kildunne speaking to the BBC

“We’re so happy to play in front of this amount of crowd at a home stadium and we put on a show!

“No discredit to Ireland but we really turned it on when we needed to, it became running rugby, everyone knew their role and it was enjoyable.

“We talk a lot about taking the hand break off and it feeds confidence. We keep trying new things and good things happen from it.

“We don’t think too far head, we need to take in what happened with 44,000 fans coming to watch, it’s been incredible.”

Ellie Kildunne celebrates her try
Ellie Kildunne (pictured) was named player of the match - Paul Harding/Getty Images

04:13 PM BST

England scrum-half Claudia Macdonald on the BBC

“Next week is a huge game [against France]. England will go their to hopefully win a Grand Slam.

“Every opportunity they get they want to put their best foot forward and you want to be part of that team that wins the Grand Slam.

04:11 PM BST

Maggie Alphonsi on the BBC

“All I can say is wow. These players really stood up today and I was so impressed.

“They are starting to find their momentum.”

04:06 PM BST

Nearly 50,000 at Twickenham

04:04 PM BST


Ireland kick the ball out with the clock in the red to save them more suffering and England win 88-10 in front of nearly 50,000 at Twickenham. England were fantastic, Ireland were very poor.

04:03 PM BST

80 minutes: England 88 Ireland 10

Kildunne has been named player of the match and she has been outstanding today.

04:01 PM BST

Try! Feaunati over

England have yet another. After a terrific break from Aldcroft, Breach is hauled down just before the Ireland line. But Feaunati is on hand to go over in the corner.

03:58 PM BST

Try! Kildunne gets her hat-trick

This is so one-sided but England are on fire. Scarratt puts a great kick in behind the defence and Kildunne sprints onto it to get her third try of the match.

03:56 PM BST

Try! Breach gets England’s 12th

This has been a complete and utterly dominant performance from England. The kick is put through on the left-hand side from just outside the 22, it takes a slight deflection and Breach is on hand to gather and go over. The conversion is successful and England now lead 78-10.

03:53 PM BST

Try! Kildunne gets her second

Kildunne is such a rangy runner and got good speed. Good hands send her free inside the Ireland half and she sprints through the middle 40 metres untouched to score. The conversion is successful.

03:49 PM BST

67 minutes: England 64 Ireland 10

England are back up to their full compliment as L Packer is back on the field after her sin-bin.

03:46 PM BST

Try! Dow secures her hat-trick

Dow has a hat-trick. It is great play by England, so poor from Ireland. England go through the backs to the right win, where Dow hands-off the last defender and runs in from halfway for her third try. Aitchison’s conversion is good and England lead 64-10.

03:39 PM BST

Try! Jones gets her second of the game

Jones was denied on the stroke of half-time but she is not to be denied now. The try is set up by a great break by Kabeya. Inside the Ireland 22, Jones dummies the pass, uses great footwork and goes over for a superb finish. Aitchison lands the conversion and England lead 57-10.

03:36 PM BST

Penalty try Ireland

The referee and TMO have decided that replacement scrum-half Packer brought the maul down illegally so the penalty try is awarded and Packer is sent to the sin-bin.

03:34 PM BST

56 minutes: England 50 Ireland 3

Have Ireland got over the line? They get the maul rolling towards the line but the referee is not sure whether it was grounded. We go to the TMO...

03:28 PM BST

50 minutes: England 50 Ireland 3

England have made two changes, one at scrum-half and one at tighthead as Packer and Clifford replace Hunt and Muir.

03:26 PM BST

Try! Kabeya awarded the try

The replays show Kabeya got it down on the line under the posts and with Aitchison’s conversion gets England to the 50-point mark.

03:25 PM BST

48 minutes: England 43 Ireland 3

England win another scrum penalty not far outside the Ireland 22 and they kick to the corner.

Off the line-out Packer makes a powerful run towards the Ireland line. Kabeya thinks she has got over and the TMO will check...

03:21 PM BST

Try! Breach gets England’s seventh

That did not take England long in the second half. England move it wide to the left wing where Breach, from just inside the Ireland half, sprints down the touchline and none of the Ireland defenders can get near here. Aitchison fails with her conversion attempt. England now lead 43-3.

03:17 PM BST

41 minutes: England 38 Ireland 3

Ireland have made a double change at the break as Breen and Deely have come on for Higgins and Delany.

03:16 PM BST

Second half

Sophie Ellis-Bextor has finished her set and a good job as the second half is ready to get going. We are back under way.

03:13 PM BST

Ellis-Bextor performing

At half-time the Twickenham crowd is enjoying a performance from Sophie Ellis-Bextor, including her song ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’, which has seen a recent revival due to the film ‘Saltburn’.

Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs at half time
The Twickenham crowd treated to a performance by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (pictured) - Alex Broadway/Getty Images
Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs at half time
The half-time entertainment came from Sophie Ellis-Bextor (pictured) - Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

03:09 PM BST

Expansive from England

03:06 PM BST

HT verdict

Well that was pretty straight forward. I reckon if England continue at this pace they’re going to put more than 50 on Ireland. Six tries in 40 minutes doesn’t exactly spell competitive, does it? Once again, centre Tatyana Heard has been on fire, pulling all the strings in England’s electric midfield. She has repeatedly cut Ireland open with her trademark deep pass to Aitchison. Ireland haven’t been able to cope with her.

03:01 PM BST


Jones thinks she has her second try of the afternoon but the referee adjudges the pass to Jones as forward and that will finish the first half. England lead 38-3 at the break.

The scoreline is doing a decent job of relaying the one-sided nature of this game but a couple of statistics make for stark reading as well. At half-time, England had beaten 37 defenders to Ireland’s two and made 12 line-breaks without conceding one. It’s a rout.

03:00 PM BST

40 minutes: England 38 Ireland 3

With the clock in the red, England have a penalty just inside the Ireland half. They kick into the Ireland 22...

02:58 PM BST

39 minutes: England 38 Ireland 3

The atmosphere inside Twickenham is a little flat - definitely not as raucous as the 58,498 who watched England win the Grand Slam against France last year. Wonder if the one-sided nature of it all is proving a switch off?

02:57 PM BST

Try! Dow does get her second

Dow goes over for the try but will this one be disallowed as well? England ship it out the back and move it out wide to the right wing, where Dow goes over. It certainly looked like in the midfield that an Ireland defender was taken out but the try stands. Aitchison’s touchline conversion is unsuccessful.

02:54 PM BST

No try

Just as Dow was stretching for the line there was separation and therefore the try is ruled out.

Abby Dow drops the ball over the line
Abby Dow (centre) drops the ball over the line - Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

02:53 PM BST

35 minutes: England 33 Ireland 3

That is a great finish in the corner from Dow. England move it out to the right wing and through good footwork and hand-off, Dow somehow manages to get over in the corner. But has she dropped it? The TMO is checking...

02:52 PM BST

34 minutes: England 33 Ireland 3

Botterman thinks she is about to power her way over the line but she is well held up by the Irish defence.

England are being forced into a change at hooker as Atkin-Davies is being helped off and she is replaced by Powell.

02:45 PM BST

Try! Kildunne gets England’s fifth

Ireland bring down the maul so England have the penalty advantage. They ship it out to the back and it is an easy finish from Kildunne after some good lines cut by her fellow backs. Aitchison has the easiest of conversions and England lead 33-3.

02:42 PM BST

27 minutes: England 26 Ireland 3

England win the penalty at the scrum and will kick to the corner.

02:42 PM BST

26 minutes: England 26 Ireland 3

Kildunne is wrecking absolute havoc and makes a big break from inside her own 22. Ireland haul her down near the edge of their own 22 and England will now have a scrum after an Ireland knock-on.

02:40 PM BST

Penalty Ireland

Ireland fly-half O’Brien lands the penalty and gets Ireland’s first points of the afternoon.

02:39 PM BST

23 minutes: England 26 Ireland 0

England are offside inside their own half, so Ireland have the penalty. England have also been caught for not rolling away so Ireland’s penalty is on the edge of the England 22. Despite being 26 points down, they are going for the posts...

02:36 PM BST

Try! Aldcroft gets England’s bonus-point try

England have their fourth try and we are not even 20 minutes in. Initially a terrific Kildunne break puts England in the Ireland half. Then Aldcroft is sent through the Irish defensive line and after a strong hand-off on Delany, she strides through under the posts, where Aitchison has the simplest of conversions.

02:29 PM BST

Try! Three tries for England inside opening 15 minutes

From an England line-out on the Ireland 22, they move the ball wide and Dow runs a great, cutting line to make it close to the Ireland line. It is then recycled to Jones, who crashes over from short-range. Aitchison lands the simple conversion. 19-0 lead for England already.

02:26 PM BST

Try! Hunt goes over for England’s second

Hunt makes a terrific break, sniping from the breakdown at halfway. and looks like she is going to go all the way but is hauled down metres from the line. After a couple more phases, Hunt again dummies down the blindside and goes over for England’s second. England are a little fortunate that a knock-on was not spotted in the build-up. Aitchison lands the conversion to make it 12-0 to England.

As predicted, it’s been a fast start from England, who have spent the opening 10 minutes falling off the Irish tackes. Dow should never have been allowed to score the Red Roses’ opening and Hunt’s snipe was all too easy. It’s going to be a long afternoon for the girls in green...

02:23 PM BST

Try! England get the opening score

England have the first try of the game and it is winger Dow who gets it. After Atkin and Matthews make good ground through the middle into the Ireland 22, England ship it wide. It is worked out to Dow on the wing, who hands-off Ireland full-back Delany to go over. The conversion by Aitchison is missed. England lead 5-0.

02:21 PM BST

5 minutes: England 0 Ireland 0

Ellie Kildunne received the loudest cheer when her name was read out prior to kick-off and she’s had two understated yet polished touches on the counter already, first offloading out of a tackle and then sending Abby Dow down the Red Roses right. Collectively, though, it’s been an untidy start from England, characterised by handling errors.

02:19 PM BST

4 minutes: England 0 Ireland 0

After an Ireland knock-on in centre-field inside the England half, the England scrum crushes the Ireland pack and win a penalty. That is what you call an ominous sign.

02:15 PM BST


We are under way at Twickenham. There has been a late change for England in the second-row as Talling has replaced Galligan, who was injured in the warm-up. Hanlon has come onto the bench in the number 19 jersey.

02:10 PM BST

Kick-off fast approaching

Both sides have emerged from the tunnel and it is time for the national anthems.

02:08 PM BST

Reminder of the team news

England: Kildunne; Dow, Jones, Heard, Breach; Aitchison, Hunt; Botterman, Atkin-Davies, Muir, Aldcroft, Galligan, Kabeya, Packer (capt), Matthews.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Clifford, Talling, Feaunati, L Packer, Scarratt, Gregson.

Ireland: Delany; Corrigan, Higgins, Dalton, Parsons; O’Brien, Reilly; Djougang, Jones, Haney; Wall, O’Connor, Wafer, McMahon, Hogan.

Replacements: Moloney, O’Dowd, McGrath, Tuite, Ikahihifo, Scuffil-McCabe, Breen, Deely.

02:06 PM BST

Live from Twickenham

Pop idol Kelli-Leigh has just got the Twickenham crowd up and dancing with a pre-match rendition of ‘Motherland’ - her new single which dropped a few weeks ago and is the official Women’s Six Nations anthem. Just over 48,500 tickets have been sold for today’s match, meaning we’re on course for the second highest ever attendance for a standalone women’s Test.

02:05 PM BST

England head coach John Mitchell speaking to the BBC

“In terms of our performance the girls are trusting who they are and who they are with, that is the key thing.”

On red cards in previous matches: 

“We are definitely aware of their behaviour and we make the girls responsible for adjustments, but we want to play on the edge. That is what we are all about and we are encouraging that. We like to play with 15, but you have got to deal with it.”

On missed goal kicks: 

“We do have weaknesses and we are aware of it. We are trying to keep the girls on process, we are happy to wait for development and when we get put into an arm-wrestle we might have to win it through kicking - it has not gone unnoticed.”

02:01 PM BST

England gearing up

01:59 PM BST

Maggie Alphonsi on the BBC

“We don’t want to see one-sided games it does not benefit the women’s game.

“England have not lost since 2018 in the Six Nations. We want to have that competitive balance and with investment it will get there. It’s key to have that jeopardy and it will grow the game.”

01:58 PM BST

Fiona Tomas and Charlie Morgan live from Twickenham

01:44 PM BST

Crowd noise

Twickenham is expecting around 50,000 in this afternoon to watch England vs Ireland. In order to prepare for what could be the second highest attendance for a women’s Test match, they have been training with artificial crowd noise.

England train at Twickenham ahead of today's match
England have been using artificial crowd noise to prepare for this afternoon's match - Alex Davidson/Getty Images

01:39 PM BST

Changing face of women’s rugby

To date England have won two Women’s Rugby World Cups. John Mitchell’s team will be hoping to make it three next year. The two World Cup-winning captains, Karen Almond and Katy Daley-Mclean, have been speaking about the changing face of women’s rugby.

Katy Daley-McLean of England poses with the player of the match trophy after the Women's Six Nations match between Ireland and England in 2019
Katy Daley-McLean (pictured) is one of two women's World Cup-winning captains - David Rogers/Getty Images

01:32 PM BST

Team news

England head coach John Mitchell has made two changes to the starting XV from the win over Scotland last weekend. Captain Marlie Packer returns to the starting team having been on the bench against Scotland. Lark Atkin-Davies comes into the side at hooker with Amy Cokayne suspended.

England: Kildunne; Dow, Jones, Heard, Breach; Aitchison, Hunt; Botterman, Atkin-Davies, Muir, Aldcroft, Galligan, Kabeya, Packer (capt), Matthews.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Clifford, Talling, Feaunati, L Packer, Scarratt, Gregson.

Ireland have made two changes from their win over Wales last weekend. Centre Aoife Dalton and second row Hannah O’Connor come into the starting XV. Co-captain Sam Monaghan is not in the matchday squad.

Ireland: Delany; Corrigan, Higgins, Dalton, Parsons; O’Brien, Reilly; Djougang, Jones, Haney; Wall, O’Connor, Wafer, McMahon, Hogan.

Replacements: Moloney, O’Dowd, McGrath, Tuite, Ikahihifo, Scuffil-McCabe, Breen, Deely.

01:30 PM BST

England arrive

01:17 PM BST

Match preview

England are three wins from three so far in the Women’s Six Nations and they will be looking to make it four from four this afternoon when they host Ireland at Twickenham. Last weekend they beat Scotland 46-0 to maintain their 100% start after 48-0 and 46-10 wins over Italy and Wales respectively. The Red Roses are aiming to win their third successive Grand Slam and a sixth successive Six Nations title. England sit top of the table after three straight bonus point wins, with France one place and point behind them on 14 points.

Hooker Amy Cokayne will miss this afternoon’s match after being sent off in the win over Scotland last weekend. She received two yellow cards which has resulted in a one-match ban, meaning she will be available for England’s last game against France next weekend, which looks set to be the Grand Slam decider.

Cokayne is the second England player to receive a red card during this tournament after Sarah Beckett’s red against Italy in the opening game. No other team has had a player sent off but England head coach John Mitchell wants his side to continue playing on the edge.

“We are certainly not going to go away from the edge as it is what drives us and is what the game is all about,” said Mitchell. “I want us to continue to play on the edge, but also want us to be aware of how we need to change our behaviour.”

England head coach John Mitchell walks around the Twickenham pitch
England look to make it four wins from four this afternoon at Twickenham against Ireland - Alex Davidson/Getty Images

A crowd of more than 45,000 is expected at Twickenham this afternoon and Mitchell cannot wait for today’s game.

“We are excited for the opportunity of another crack at Twickenham in front of our awesome fans,” Mitchell said. “We want to continue to get better in our game and make the most of the experience to benefit us in the future.”

Ireland beat Wales 36-5 in Cork last weekend, but fell to defeats in their first two games of the 2024 Six Nations against France and Italy respectively. Going into this afternoon’s game, Ireland are in third place.

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