Six Nations: England and Ireland women to play in front of record crowd

England women
England have to beat Ireland and hope leaders France lose against Wales if they are to retain the title
2018 Women's Six Nations: England v Ireland
Venue: Ricoh Arena, Coventry Date: Friday 16 March Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, report on BBC Sport website.

England women's final Six Nations match against Ireland on Friday will take place in front of a record crowd at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

It is understood 8,600 tickets have already been sold for the game, which would beat the previous best for a women's Six Nations fixture in England.

That was 7,620 for the meeting with Scotland in Darlington in 2015.

The same fixture between England and Ireland two years ago was watched by just 2,500 at Twickenham.

But England look set to relinquish their Six Nations title after the 18-17 defeat against France last time out.

Simon Middleton has made four changes for the finale, and his side have to beat Ireland and hope leaders France lose against Wales if they are to retain the title.

Last weekend's narrow loss in Grenoble was played out in front of an all-time world record crowd for any women's Test of 17,400.

This figure trumped the 17,115 who watched the 2017 World Cup final in Belfast, which was won by New Zealand.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been criticised for not being able to generate a crowd size like the one in France, but the forecast attendance at the Ricoh would represent a significant step forward.

The kick-off time of 17:30 GMT on Friday has also proved controversial, with the England U20s game against Ireland starting at 20:00.

However, the RFU feels the earlier slot for the women's match will encourage families to attend, with ticket prices for children as low as £5.

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