A SPARE weekend for many of the region’s clubs sees international matters to the fore, starting with a quartet of players being selected by England Counties for this evening’s visit of their French counterparts, the Federale XV.
Picked from players outside the top two divisions of the respective countries, this evening’s encounter in Ealing sees Tynedale’s David Dickinson joined by Blaydon trio Chris Wearmouth, Matt Hall and Robbie Kalbraier.
Wearmouth has been a late addition to the squad after missing out on the defeat against the Ireland Club XV in Cork earlier this month, but has Counties experience after touring Kenya and Uganda with them over the summer.
In women’s rugby, Newcastle’s Sarah Hunter captains an England side looking to bounce back from their humbling against the Irish last time out, hosting France at Twickenham immediately following the men’s match tomorrow evening in a squad which includes Darlington Mowden Sharks’ Katy McLean as a replacement.
Durham University’s Josh Beaumont captains England Students against France Universities in Richmond this evening, the lock-forward (son of England great Bill Beaumont) being joined in the squad by fellow Palatinates Simon Hammersley, Harrison Collins and Josh Bayford.
Newcastle Falcons prop Scott Wilson is among the England Under-20s players taking on France in Worcester tomorrow afternoon, club-mate George McGuigan in the running for Ireland Under-20s against Scotland in Galashiels this evening.
In club rugby, Westoe face a formidable assignment tomorrow in their increasingly difficult bid to avoid dropping out of National Two North, travelling to third-placed Preston Grasshoppers.
In National Three North Percy Park host Birkenhead Park, unchanged in the pack but without centre pairing Ali Blair and Adam Morton. Phil Morse slots into the side, James Bird moves one place in from the wing and Northumberland Under-20s flanker Jack Davidson is included on the bench.
The bottom pair in Durham and Northumberland Two do battle when Winlaton travel to Barnard Castle, while in the National Under-17s Cup Blaydon travel to Chester tomorrow and Darlington Mowden Park host Carlisle. The Plate sees Blyth at home to Sheffield Tigers, while the Bowl draw includes Bishop Auckland at Guisborough and Horden hosting Leigh.