21 Oct 2023

Impressive England thump Wallaroos in WXV opener

7:14 am on 21 October 2023
Marlie Packer of England makes a run against Australia.

Marlie Packer of England makes a run against Australia. Photo: Photosport

Captain Marlie Packer scored two tries as England baat Australia 42-7 to make a winning start to WXV1 in Wellington, kick-starting the new global tournament in women's rugby.

The Red Roses, Six Nations champions and currently top of the world rankings, secured a bonus point before halftime, with Hannah Botterman, Ella Wyrwas, Packer and Jess Breach all crossing.

Packer and Megan Jones added further scores for England, while Ashley Marsters replied for Australia, who had Annabelle Codey sent off.

Lock Codey, who had been sin-binned in the first half for making shoulder contact with Packer's head, was shown a red card for the same offence against Wyrwas in the build-up to Jones' try.

The world champion Black Ferns were to open their campaign against France on Saturday night while Canada and Wales will meet in the earlier match.

The first ever WXV tournament signals the start of a new era for England - with new head coach John Mitchell having linked up with the team in New Zealand, following Simon Middleton's decision to step down after a Six Nations Grand Slam was completed in April.

Packer said: "It was a great victory. The Aussies gave us a really good game and asked us loads of questions.

"We talk about courage and being courageous and that's what we did today. We're going to grow into this tournament and this game was the start of that.

"It's a fantastic competition and we're all excited to be here playing the top teams in the world, coming off the World Cup last year and keeping the legacy going in New Zealand. I know the girls are really enjoying it over here.

"The camp is feeling really good, we're a new-look England side and we're enjoying the way we are playing."

*This story was first published by BBC