England debut for Lotte Clapp

PUBLISHED: 17:12 10 November 2015 | UPDATED: 17:12 10 November 2015

Lotte Clapp. Picture by Rugbymatters

Lotte Clapp. Picture by Rugbymatters

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Welwyn Garden City’s Lotte Clapp made her England Women’s rugby debut on Saturday in the 11-0 defeat to France in an autumn international.

England Women headed into the first fixture of their autumn series having experienced a mixed previous season, finishing fourth in the Six Nations before going on to beat the USA and Canada in the Rugby Super Series.

Head coach Simon Middleton called for an improved performance from his team as they continue to build for the 2017 Rugby World Cup, but despite plenty of opportunity, England were unable to turn their efforts into points with handling errors proving costly.

France made a strong start to the fixture in Martigues, pushing England inside their 22 and coming away with three-points through the boot of Audrey Abadie.

The fly-half repeated her efforts soon after, putting France ahead by six.

Dogged work from Marlie Packer and Sarah Hunter gave England an edge at the breakdown, but possession proved hard to maintain in the opening half with France keeping the majority of ball while dominating at the driving maul.

Despite a last minute play for the line from the forwards, England headed in at the break with no points to their name, France leading by six.

The second half started in much the same vein, with both sides struggling to make it past the initial phases.

Adabie missed her second penalty kick of the night to keep England within one converted try.

It wasn’t until the 55th minute when a try was scored, outside-centre Elodie Poublan creeping down the blind after a dominant forward effort put France in position.

Adabie missed the conversion, putting the home side ahead by 11.

Determined to get on the scoreboard, England opted for the uprights after their earlier efforts at the lineout were overturned by France.

Lining up for her first kick off the game, Lauren Cattell sent the ball wide.

England tried every which way to break through the French defensive line in the final exchanges, switching from forward power to pace out wide.

With France down to 13-women after Publan was shown yellow for killing the ball, England had the numbers to capitalise but excellent cover defence from the home-side kept them on the wrong side of the whitewash, with the final whistle sounding.

See this week’s Welwyn Hatfield Times for an exclusive interview with Lotte Clapp about her England debut.


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