Following the withdrawal of the Irish team from the women's Five Nations championship until 2001, European front-runners Spain have been brought into the tournament.
Spain, twice European Champions, have a much more powerful rugby pedigree than Ireland and their inclusion will take the standard of the competition up another notch. "The inclusion of Spain will raise the standard of competition in the Five Nations", commented England Performance Director Carol Isherwood.
"England and the other European nations need to gain more experience of playing under pressure if we are going to continue to compete with teams like New Zealand, so the addition of Spain is a very positive step".
England are already scheduled to meet Spain on 9 January in a warm-up before the five nations competition. They will then face Spain again in the first of the Five Nations clashes on 6 February at Banbury RFC.