Rugby star Aldcroft retains place in England squad

Zoe Aldcroft
Zoe Aldcroft

Former Scarborough RUFC junior Zoe Aldcroft has been named in the England squad for the 2016/17 season.

Darlington Mowden Park player Aldcroft, 19, is one of the 16 non-contracted players in the squad, and made her debut in the full England team in July in the USA.

Aldcroft, who is studying at Northumbria University, said: "We will meet up for training together next month ahead of the November games against France, New Zealand and Canada, then in January we will get together again and the training will step up a level and get tougher.

"My family were chuffed to hear that I had been called up for England again."

The 54-player squad is split into full-time, part-time, short-term and non-contracted players with 38 contracts awarded to date.

Eight of the 12-player Team GB Olympic squad will return to the 15s programme this season as England Women bid to retain the Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicks off in Ireland in August 2017.

Up to 10 contracts remain within the EPS for players to stake a claim during the opening rounds of the Women’s Premiership which kicked off last weekend.

The EPS will prepare for three Old Mutual Wealth Series fixtures in November alongside an away game against Ireland, before the Six Nations championship and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in which England will seek qualification for the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.

“With less than 12 months to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, the focus for the EPS this year will be very much on the 15-a-side game," said England Women Head Coach Simon Middleton. "We believe everyone in this squad has the potential to make the World Cup.

“This season is about going out and winning against the best. We start with a very tough series of tests in the Old Mutual Wealth Series. Every one of the five teams involved this November will have well-founded ambitions to win the World Cup next year and we want to lay down some markers.

“We are looking forward to an exciting season and I would like to recognise and thank those employers who have supported and released players to take up these contracts and represent England.”

Both the full and part-time squads train at Bisham Abbey, with additional camps held in other training venues around the country. It is expected that some players will compete on both the 15s and sevens circuit.