Italy v England: Women’s Six Nations 2024 – live | Women’s Six Nations

Key events

It’s a big day for John Mitchell. Even so, he’s able to look beyond himself and accept that one day the Red Roses will, maybe even should, be coached by a woman.

He was in top form in a chat with Rob Kitson:

Italy team

The men’s side exceeded expectations in this year’s Six Nations and the under-20s programme is starting to bear fruit.

It’s now over to the women’s team to underline the rise of Italian rugby.

It’s a tough start to the campaign and no one should bank on a win. But the Azzurre have been a force on the rise and they might have added to their solitary win – against Ireland – were they more clinical against Wales and Scotland. They won all of their matches in the WXV 2 series – beating South Africa and the USA along the way – and only lost the title on points difference.

Italy: Ostuni Minuzzi; Muzzo, Sillari, Rigoni, D’Inca’ Madia, Stefan (c); maris, Turani, Seye, Fedrighi, Tounesi, Locatelli, Sgobini, Caniva.

Replacements: Gurioli, Stecca, Gai, Pilani, Duca, Frangipani, Stevanin, Granzotto.

England team

It’s 100 up for the skipper with some familiar names back in the fold.

Marlie Packer will lead the team out on her 100th England appearance and she’ll have plenty of firepower behind her.

The dynamic midfielder (and perhaps the best player on the planet) Emily Scarratt, the metronomic fly-half Zoe Harrison and the totemic lock Abbie Ward all play for the first time since the World Cup final defeat to New Zealand in November 2022. Their presence alone means this is a side with serious business on the mind.

Keep an eye out, too, for loose forward Sadia Kabeya who was one of the breakout stars last year while Helena Rowland – a versatile playmaker at outside centre – could dazzle if given the chance.

Exeter’s Maddie Fe’aunati will make her debut when she comes off the bench to join the back row while Holly Aitchison could turn the dial up late in the second half.

England: Kildunne; Dow, Rowland, Scarrat, Jess Breach; Harrison, L Packer; Botterman, Atkin-Davies, Clifford, Aldcroft, Ward, Kabeya, M Packer (c), Beckett.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Muir, Fe’aunati, Matthews, Hunt, Aitchison, Jones.


So begins a new chapter in Red Roses history. John Mitchell takes charge of a women’s side for the first time having steered the men’s outfits of New Zealand, the United States and a host of club sides around the world while also serving in supporting roles with England, Ireland and Japan. It’s an impressive CV but this is a new challenge.

Not least because of the weight of expectation. With five consecutive Six Nations titles, there’s a case to be made that England’s women are the most dominant rugby side on the planet. But a World Cup is the ultimate goal and with a home tournament kicking off in 2025, now is the time to start shaping a group that can make good on their potential having lost to New Zealand in each of the last two finals.

There’s a milestone for the bulldozing force that is Marlie packer. She brings up her 100th cap for her country and the skipper will want to lay down a statement. Italy won’t be pushovers in Parma, but anything other than a comfortable win for England will come as a surprise.

It all kicks off at 2pm local time/3pm in the UK.

Get in touch if you have a thought you want to share with the group. How do you reckon Mitchell will get on? How can he take this steamroller forward?

Teams and updates to follow.

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