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England women set for exciting autumn schedule

England women set for exciting autumn schedule

Sarah Hunter celebrates England women

England women are set to take on world champions New Zealand in back-to-back Tests as part of a four-match autumn schedule.

The reigning Women’s Six Nations champions will kick off with a pair of matches against the Black Ferns (on the weekends of October 29-31 and November 5-7), who they last faced in 2019, before clashes with Canada (weekend of 12-14 November) and the USA (weekend of 19-21 November).

England are unbeaten so far in 2021, having won the Women’s Six Nations title with a hard-fought win over France in the final at the Stoop, after wins over Italy and Scotland. They followed that up with another battling success against Les Bleues in Villeneuve-d’Ascq a week later.

And they will now look to carry that form into the autumn with England women head coach Simon Middleton excited to get the opportunity to test his charges against the Black Ferns in a series.

He said: “Any series of games where you get to pit yourselves against the top teams in the world is going to be great. We haven’t played any of these teams since the Super Series in 2019 and I thought the standard of rugby and the closeness of the games in that competition showed just how hugely competitive this series is likely to be.

“No team won all four games in that Super Series so to now be able to play against three of the top six ranked teams in the world is something to look forward to and a great opportunity.

“We haven’t played New Zealand in back-to-back matches since 2013. These games are always really intriguing, you have to react to what happened in the first, there’s a little bit of countering what one team does, it’s a bit of a chess game so that’ll be brilliant.

“All matches will give each team a marker of where they are and where they need to go in terms of World Cup preparations which is hugely important and exciting for all.

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“It goes without saying that this series provides the perfect opportunity for individuals to display their World Cup credentials and stake an early claim for a place in what will be the most competitive squad selection we will have made since the 2017 World Cup.”

The exact dates of the matches, as well as the venues and kick-off times, will be announced in due course.