Hartpury starlet Abbie keeps firm grip on centre spot for Scotland showdown

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Hartpury’s Abbie Brown has maintained her grip on England women’s outside centre spot for their Six Nations showdown with Scotland on Friday night (March 13th, kick-off 7.35pm)

It has been a difficult campaign for the Women’s Rugby World Cup holders so far, losing their opening clash 13-0 to Wales and then going down 11-18 to Ireland at Ashbourne RFC last time out, although they did claim a comprehensive 39-7 win over Italy in between.

Abbie, who is part of the hugely successful Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) Women’s Rugby programme at Hartpury, will be hoping to play her part in helping England get their Six Nations back on track with a win over the Scots at the Northern Echo Arena in Darlington.

Abbie’s Bristol and Hartpury AASE colleague, winger Sydney Gregson, will be disappointed to have dropped out of the squad after starting every game of the Six Nations so far for England. England have recalled Lydia Thompson for this clash – the Worcester wing who has not played for England since the World Cup pool game against Spain in August, where she picked up an injury that ruled her out of the tournament,

Brown is, however, joined by a trio of former Hartpury students in the starting line-up. They are Alex Matthews (Richmond), who stays at blindside flanker for the Scotland clash, centre Ceri Large (Worcester) from Drybrook and scrum-half Bianca Blackburn (Worcester). Another former Hartpury student, Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), has been named on the replacements bench.

Scotland beat Italy 31-8 in their last Six Nations outing after fairly comprehensive defeats to France and Wales.

Peter Cook, who heads up the AASE women’s rugby programme at Hartpury, said: “After the heartbreak of a late penalty costing them the game in Ireland, I know England will be really fired up to face Scotland and get their Six Nations back on track. It won’t be an easy task but hopefully Abbie will be able to make her mark in a strong England back-line.

“Having only made her senior debut in the opening game of the tournament, it’s great to see her holding on to her place and to have her exceptional talent recognised by the England coaching staff.

“She’s in good company too with so many talented Hartpury products playing around her and I know that has really helped her to find her feet. We wish them all the very best for the rest of the Six Nations.”

Another former Hartpury student, Stu Pickering, is also involved with the England Women’s senior squad as a strength and conditioning coach.

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