Zoe Aldcroft, Ellie Kildunne, Morwenna Talling and Tatyana Heard named in England squad for Women's Rugby World Cup

Three Yorkshirewomen will represent England at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next month.

Zoe Aldcroft, a 25-year-old lock from Scarborough, is one of the team’s established stars having been named world player of the year in the 15-women game in 2021.

She has 32 caps to her name and plays club rugby for Gloucester-Hartpury.

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And she has been joined in the squad by Keighley’s Ellie Kildunne, a 23-year-old centre or full-back, who has 25 caps to her name.

Zoe Aldcroft of England. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)Zoe Aldcroft of England. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Zoe Aldcroft of England. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Kildunne plays her club rugby for Harlequins.

Tayana Heard, a 27-year-old centre who was born in Italy but raised in Kirbymoorside in North Yorkshire, has also been named in the squad.

A team-mate of Aldcroft’s at Gloucester-Hartpury, Heard has five caps to her name.

A fourth player is Morwenna Talling, a 19-year-old from York who played for Malton and Norton alongside Heard, and is set to build on her four caps in New Zealand.

Ellie Kildunne of England takes on Niamh Terry of Wales during the Women's International rugby match between England Red Roses and Wales at Ashton Gate on September 14, 2022 in Bristol, England. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)Ellie Kildunne of England takes on Niamh Terry of Wales during the Women's International rugby match between England Red Roses and Wales at Ashton Gate on September 14, 2022 in Bristol, England. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ellie Kildunne of England takes on Niamh Terry of Wales during the Women's International rugby match between England Red Roses and Wales at Ashton Gate on September 14, 2022 in Bristol, England. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)
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England, who are favourites to win the tournament having stretched their unbeaten run to a record 25 games by thrashing Wales last week, kick-off their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Auckland on Saturday October 8.

The Red Roses also play France (Saturday 15 October, Northland Events Centre, Whangarei, KO 2000 local time/ 0800 UK time) before returning to Auckland for their final pool fixture against South Africa (Sunday 23 October, Waitakere Stadium, KO 1745 local time/0545 UK time). All fixtures are available to watch on ITV.

Head coach Simon Middleton, who is from Pontefract, said: “First and foremost I would like to start by acknowledging those who have missed out on selection. There is not one single player in the wider squad who hasn’t given their all. Nobody has given less than their absolute best, they should be proud of their efforts throughout the team's campaign to date.

“If between now and the tournament, or during the World Cup, we have to call anyone up, we can do it with 100% confidence that we are bringing a top player in.

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“I would like to say a huge congratulations to those who have made the squad. To earn selection means you have done some special things and you have been outstanding in your application to training and performances.

“We are really confident with the balance of the squad. I am pleased with the way the team is gelling and how our game is coming together. There is still plenty to work on, we expect to improve game-on-game.

“While this is a squad announcement and not about singling out individuals, it would be remiss not to reference our captain, Sarah Hunter. Sarah is a better captain now than she has ever been. She has owned the captaincy and how she represents the squad on and off the field is absolutely brilliant. When you work with someone for so long you sometimes need to remind yourself of her outstanding attributes, she is unbelievable in how she conducts herself.

"Her pride in and love of representing her country is as strong as ever. She is a class act and we are very fortunate to have her leading the side at this tournament.”