Maggie Alphonsi called on England to sort out their discipline and step up their game even further ahead of Saturday’s Grand Slam decider with France.

The Red Roses will arrive in Bordeaux in stunning form having powered their way to comfortable victories in each of their last four matches to leave them on the cusp of a fifth successive Grand Slam in completed Championships.

Victory has come despite two reds cards and five yellows, and Alphonsi believes John Mitchell’s side can ill-afford to give France the advantage of an extra player amidst a hostile home crowd in Bordeaux, with France also gunning for the Grand Slam.

“What we want to see next weekend is more of what we saw against Ireland in terms of the ambition and willingness to play in attack but we have still got to work on that discipline,” she said.

“They are getting by and seem to play their best rugby when they have 14 players but if we can keep all 15 players on the field that would be positive. 

“There is also the element of being clinical and executing when it matters because against France they are going to be put under a lot more pressure than what we’ve seen in the last four rounds. 

“Over the tournament they have developed that confidence and belief in their decision making and John Mitchell is bringing out the best in them. I just hope they put it all together because they will be tested by the French, they have some really good players and the crowd will definitely be against them.

“As long as they click and bring it together in the 80 minutes, it will be a really good match. To play in France, in Bordeaux, probably in front of a sell-out crowd as well, it’s going to be exciting.”

Alphonsi was speaking as an ambassador at Howden’s Big Rugby Day Out to mark the company’s principal sponsorship of the British & Irish Lions ahead of the men’s 2025 tour to Australia and the inaugural 2027 women’s tour to New Zealand.

The day put community rugby front and centre, with seven clubs invited to take part in a festival of activity including coaching sessions run by Lions legend Jason Robinson.

And Alphonsi believes the rapid growth of grassroots in the women’s and girls’ game alongside a first-ever women’s Lions tour means it is an exciting time for the women’s game.

“It’s the best time for women’s rugby right now,” she said. “We have lots of girls who have started a women’s or girls’ section and they are thriving. 

“You talk to people and they tell you their stories of how they started with only three girls and now they have 60 girls. It inspires me, it motivates me to think the game is growing and it’s all happening at community clubs. 

Reading Chronicle: Maggie Alphonsi at Howden and British and Irish Lions Big Rugby Day OutMaggie Alphonsi at Howden and British and Irish Lions Big Rugby Day Out (Image: Howden/British & Irish Lions)

“We just have to keep supporting it. That’s the work Howden are doing to keep that going. It’s so good to have that parity, for Howden to sponsor both the men’s and the women’s, the first Lions tour for the women, it’s incredibly special. 

“Some of these women are going to wear that famous red jersey, I am gutted I’m not going to have that opportunity. It’s nice to know that one day my son or my daughter can both play for the Lions.”

As part of their partnership with The British & Irish Lions, Howden will be supporting the grassroots game