On Friday, England take on USA at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens RFC, in a match that will see fly-half Katy Daley-Mclean win her 100th cap for the Red Roses. Hailed as "one of the greatest women's players ever", by England coach Simon Middleton, the 32-year-old earned her first cap against Scotland in 2007 and captained England to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 glory before going on to represent Team GB in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The same evening in Toulon, France host world champions New Zealand in what is arguably the pick of the November's record number of women's internationals. The Black Ferns will go into the game full of confidence off the back of a comfortable 67-6 win over the USA in Chicago last weekend, but a sterner test is expected to come from Les Bleues who swept all before them in this year's Women's Six Nations.
The following day South Africa return to the international arena for the first time in four years with a game against Wales in Cardiff, while Spain and Hong Kong bring the curtain down on the weekend's fixtures in Villajoyosa on Sunday.
ENGLAND (2) v USA (5)
While Daley-Mclean will earn her 100th cap for England in the Red Roses’ opening November test against USA, at the other end of the spectrum Middleton has opted to hand first caps to four players – prop Ellena Perry, number eight Sarah Beckett and centres Tatyana Heard and Carys Williams – with two potential debutants on the bench. With regular captain Sarah Hunter, among the replacements for this opening game, Harlequins second-row Abbie Scott is chosen to lead the side.
USA Women's Eagles coach Rob Cain has reacted to last week's heavy loss to New Zealand by making five changes to his starting XV, while there are an additional four new faces on the bench and up to three new caps to be awarded overall. Upfront, Joanna Kitlinski steps in for Katy Augustyn at hooker and will be accompanied in the front-row by prop Megan Rom, who earned her first cap off the bench last week. In the backline, Anna Karen Pedraza comes in at scrum-half and Sarah Levy debuts on the wing. Levy's selection sees Kaitlyn Broughton shifting to full-back in place of Meya Bizer. Rounding of the changes to the starting line-up, McKenzie Hawkins wins her second cap at inside-centre. Jennine Duncan and Melissa Finkelstein have the opportunity to make their debuts from the bench.
- England and USA most recently played each other at WRWC 2017 in Ireland last August, with the Red Roses running out 47-26 winners in the pool stages
- These sides first met at this level in the final of WRWC 1991, USA winning 19-6 to be crowned inaugural champions
- The USA Women's Eagles have yet to repeat that success in 16 attempts since
- Daley-Mclean follows in the footsteps of Rochelle Clark, Sarah Hunter, Amy Garnett and Tamara Taylor in reaching a century of caps for England
Neither team can improve their position in the World Rugby Women's Rankings even in victory, but USA would boost their rating by two full points if they were to win well. The Red Roses will lose second place if they are beaten and France shock New Zealand.
FRANCE (3) v NEW ZEALAND (1)
France coach Samuel Cherouk has named a strong and experienced side with three of the Les Bleues' four World Rugby Women's Player of the Year nominees – second-row Safi N’Diaye, blindside flanker Gaëlle Hermet and scrum-half Pauline Bourdon – selected to take on the Black Ferns. The only one of the quartet missing is outstanding full-back Jessy Trémoulière who will miss the series with New Zealand through injury. Montserrat Amédée, a prolific try scorer on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, wears the No.15 jersey instead. Amédée makes up an exciting back three with Cyrielle Banet and Caroline Boujard, who scored seven tries between them in France's Grand Slam-winning campaign, lining up on the wings.
The Black Ferns have made two changes to their starting line-up from the one that comfortably defeated the USA 67-6 last week. An impressive outing off the bench has seen Krysten Cottrell called up to start at fly-half, while Ruahei Demant shifts out one spot to inside centre at the expense of Chelsea Alley. There is one other change to the match-day 23, with flanker Marcelle Parkes set to make her test debut off the bench after impressing coach Glenn Moore in the Black Ferns environment.
- The Black Ferns have won all four previous meetings, including a 109-0 win in the first meeting in 1996
- The last test between the teams came at the Twickenham Stoop at WRWC 2010 and New Zealand won 45-7
- France have won their last 13 tests on home soil dating back to an 18-16 defeat to Canada at the Stade Jean Bouin at WRWC 2014
- New Zealand extended their winning streak to eight matches with victory over USA in Chicago
New Zealand cannot lose top spot as even a heavy defeat would leave them 2.11 above a victorious England team. If New Zealand win by more than 15 points and England lose by a similarly big margin, their cushion at the top of the rankings would be 8.11 points. France cannot climb with a win unless England also lose to the USA.
Looking forward to getting down to Cardiff Arms Park this Saturday morning to support the girls against South Africa. Come and join us, lets fill the stadium & be the 16th player! #calonlan #sosbanfach #support https://t.co/S4hTZ4GiqQ— Elinor Snowsill (@elsnowsill) November 7, 2018
WALES (9) v SOUTH AFRICA (13)
Uncapped full-back Lauren Smyth is one of eight members of the Ospreys regional championship-winning squad named in the Wales side by coach Rowland Phillips. Manon Johnes, Ffion Lewis and Alicia McComish are also set to win their first caps after being named on the bench. Meanwhile, scrum-half Keira Bevan and flanker Alisha Butchers make their return to the Wales team after long lay-offs due to injury. Robyn Wilkins switches to fly-half to accommodate Alecs Donovan's returns to the midfield.
South Africa coach Stanley Raubenheimer has made three changes to the team that started against the UK Armed Forces last week. Several players are in line to make their test debuts in the Welsh capital in what will be the team’s first test since Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014. Two of the changes were injury-enforced as winger Alana-Lee Horne and centre Aphiwe Ngwevu are recovering from injuries, which has resulted in Snenhlanhla Shozi and Demi Nel being drafted into the starting team. The other change is at scrum-half, where Tayla Kinsey takes over from Fundiswa Plaatjie in a positional switch. Only five players in the match-day squad are capped Springbok Women’s 15s players, namely captain Nolusindiso Booi, Thantaswa Macingwane, Kinsey, Nosiphiwo Goda, Charmaine Kayser and Plaatjie.
- Wales provided South Africa with their first test opposition in May 2004, winning 8-5
- Wales have won four and lost two of the six previous encounters
- South Africa's two wins over Wales came five years apart – in 2005 and 2010
- This is the Springbok Women's 40th test but their first since they lost to Spain at WRWC 2014
- South Africa kicked off their European tour on a winning note last Friday with a 31-12 victory against the UK Armed Forces in London
Wales will climb one place to eighth (above Ireland) if they win by more than 15 points. South Africa will achieve an historic high of 11th if they win, while a margin of more than 15 points would see them finish the weekend ranked higher than Wales, possibly as high as ninth if Spain lose heavily to Hong Kong.
SPAIN (10) v HONG KONG (23)
The match will be streamed live by the FER here.
Spain coach José Antonio Barrio is yet to name his side.
Hong Kong have also yet to announce their starting XV but several debutants are expected with 14 uncapped players in the travelling squad. Dr Karen So takes over the captaincy and she will be assisted in the leadership group by Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 veterans like Natasha Olson-Thorne, Lau Nga-wun and Chong Ka-yan.
- Spain have won all three previous encounters against Hong Kong with an average winning margin of 35 points
- Spain won 31-7 when the sides last faced each other at WRWC 2017 in Ireland
- Hong Kong are on a nine-match losing streak dating back to a 45-7 win over Fiji in December 2016
- Spain won their last fixture, 40-7 against the Netherlands, in Brussels in March
- Spain haven't played at home since hosting Hong Kong in June 2017
Neither team's rating will be affected if Spain win, but if Las Leones come unstuck by a big margin, they will drop below Scotland to their lowest-ever ranking of 11th. They could even slip to 12th depending on the margin and the result in Cardiff between Wales and South Africa. Hong Kong can gain as many as two places in victory.
The World Rugby Women's Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 GMT.
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