Women's Six Nations 2024: England and Wales meet at Bristol's Ashton Gate

Women's Six Nations: England v Wales

Venue: Ashton Gate, Bristol Dates: Saturday, 30 March Kick-off: 16:45 GMT

Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and online; listen on BBC Radio 5 Extra, BBC Radio Wales & BBC Radio Cymru; text commentary, highlights and report on BBC Sport website and app.

When seeking a third successive Grand Slam and a sixth successive Six Nations title, setting a fresh goal can become difficult.

On paper, England's opening game of the Women's Six Nations reads as a 48-0 victory away in Italy.

But it was far from perfect.

The Red Roses spent the majority of the game down to 14 players following Sarah Beckett's red card, but recovered to score six second-half tries.

Next up is John Mitchell's first home game in charge, which is against Wales at Ashton Gate and with more than 18,000 people expected it will be the largest home crowd for a fixture not played at Twickenham for the Red Roses.

"We've been planning for this game for ages and we have got heaps left in the tank," Mitchell said.

"Players are chasing each other which is good competition."

The chase for places heats up

Mitchell has made seven changes to his side for the game in Bristol.

Prior to the tournament, the 60-year-old said "rotation might not end" and he remains true to his promise to give players an opportunity before a home World Cup in 2025.

The biggest name to fall out of the matchday squad is 109-cap centre Emily Scarratt, who was given a start in Parma having only recently returned from a 13-month neck injury.

The 34-year-old played in the unfamiliar role of inside centre and showed signs of rustiness on her return to international rugby.

"Emily, like Abbie Ward, Zoe [Harrison] and Sadia [Kabeya] have all been out of Test rugby for quite a long time so my objective was to get them back as soon as possible," the New Zealander added.

"Some of them had difficult starts, but fought their way through and each of those players will get better and better because of that outing."

The fresh centre pairing of Megan Jones and Tatyana Heard get an opportunity to show their quality.

There is also a new half-back combination of Natasha Hunt and Holly Aitchison, with prop Maud Muir, second row Rosie Galligan and number eight Alex Matthews also coming into the side.

Internal competition remains a top priority with the World Cup in mind.

Not until a potential Grand Slam decider against France in the final round on 27 April will it be clearer what Mitchell's strongest team on paper is, although he could still keep everyone guessing.

Wales take positives from last England game

Scotland recorded their first victory on Welsh soil in 20 years in Cardiff last weekend meaning Wales are now winless in four games.

The Red Roses hammered Wales 59-3 in Cardiff last year but in the opening exchanges they threatened England and only trailed 19-3 at half-time.

"England are out and out the best team on the planet," said Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham, who thought his side had a good opening 30 minutes in that defeat.

"If we get back to that level of intensity for longer then we feel we can really trouble England."

Despite the defeat by Scotland, Wales showed resilience in defence and kept the visitors to only two tries.

It is a positive statistic to bring to Bristol after conceding more than 50 points to England in their past three meetings.

A late injury withdrawal to star winger Jasmine Joyce, who is relentless with chasing back in defence, will be a huge blow.

"It is still a big ask to challenge England," former Wales international Philippa Tuttiett told BBC's Rugby Union Weekly. "But you have got to see improvements in defence and they really need to come away with a try."

Wales are aiming to finish in the top three of the Six Nations to gain World Cup qualification.

Both side's may have different end goals but victory in front of a record-breaking crowd remains the ultimate ambition.


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

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Clifford, Ward, Feaunati, Packer, Harrison, Gregson.

Wales: Hesketh; Neumann, Jones, Lake, Cox; George, Jones; Pyrs, Phillips, Rose, Fleming, Evans, Williams, Callender, Lewis.

Replacements: Reardon, Constable, Tuipulotu, John, Butchers, Bevan, Powell, Metcalfe.

Referee: Kat Roche