Former England captain Catherine Spencer is urging Richmond’s Alex Matthews to focus solely on the XV game – adamant that is where her strengths lie, writes Jack Miller.

Spencer featured at two World Cups for England in 2006 and 2010, reaching the final on both occasions and the latter as captain.

In her absence England went one better last year and became world champions, with Matthews part of Gary Street’s winning squad.

Since then however number eight Matthews has been one of several World Cup winners to turn their hand to the sevens form of the game with England helping secure Team GB a spot at the Rio 2016.

But with the next World Cup fast approaching in 2017 Spencer believes Matthews’ talents are best suited away from sevens, the 36-year-old admitting that if their paths had crossed then she would have seen less playing time.

“Alex has actually been around a couple of years and was involved in the World Cup in 2014 as a relatively new player, and she plays in the same position I used to,” said Spencer, speaking at Wooden Spoon’s Rugby Ball.

“I always say if she was around playing at the same time as me, then I wouldn’t have got anywhere near as many caps as she is brilliant.

“She is in the sevens programme at the moment, but not playing a great deal of rugby and I’d love to see her come back into the XV-a-side game because I know she could be a star of the future.

“She could be around for many, many years, and I’d love to see her back playing in the XVs that's for sure.”

Since England won the 2014 World Cup they have since faltered, finishing fourth in this year’s Six Nations – their lowest ever place in the standings.

Earlier this month they also lost to France before narrowly beating Ireland 8-3, and Spencer admits England need to cut out the mistakes and fast.

“It’s been really tough for England’s women,” she added. “Obviously they won the World Cup in 2014, and that was overdue I think, but since then they’ve really struggled.

“They will have learnt a lot from the games with France and Ireland. When you’re on the pitch, ultimately you want to win, so they will be thrilled with beating Ireland.

“But they were making far too many mistakes against France, basic errors. The pack needs to be more physical, and as simple as it sounds they need to win some set-piece and win some lineouts.

“Then the backs need to reduce the error count as well. It may well be a confidence thing and they are really young, but going forward there are other teams with similar issues and they’ve just got to up their performance, physicality, and aggression levels.”

Richmond made it a perfect 10 wins in a row in the Women's Premiership with a 21-7 triumph at Worcester on Sunday to remain five points clear at the top of the table.

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