NUMBER eight Rachel Johnson is getting ready to run out for her 50th appearance for Exeter Chiefs Women as they take on Harlequins Women in the Allianz PWR game at Sandy Park tomorrow (2.30pm).

Johnson has been a mainstay on the team-sheet since her debut against Saracens in January 2021.


As an international player who has represented USA Eagles for the last six years and with less matches in the women’s rugby season, reaching 50 games is considered a respectable achievement. All 50 of Johnson’s games have been in the league and she has scored 22 tries in the process.


Johnson said: “I feel really overwhelmed and super grateful. Quite a few team-mates are reaching this milestone, so I feel super excited about it. I feel really blessed that I get to do this with my Chiefs team-mates.”


Head coach Susie Appleby said: “There are some brilliant players who have been here since the off. They are massively loyal components and are really integral to everything that we do, and Rachel is very much at the heart of what we do. It will be a great one to celebrate with her.”


Centre Gabby Cantorna passed the 50 mark earlier this season but also reached the 300-point mark against Sale Sharks Women two weeks ago with five tries and 278 kicked points totalling 303.

Cantorna will be joined in the starting XV by Katie Buchanan on the wing and Nichola Fryday in the second row, with Linde van der Velden away leading the Netherlands in the Rugby Europe Championship 2024 tournament.

Alex Tessier is back at fly-half, and Emily Tuttosi and DaLeaka Menin have returned to the front row. Both Mairi McDonald and Edel McMahon are on the bench, having been announced in the Scotland and Ireland Six Nations squads respectively this week. 


Chiefs head into the 12th round of the Allianz PWR in third place behind Saracens and new leaders Gloucester-Hartpury.

Statistics have revealed that the Chiefs have both the highest line-out (88%) and scrum (97%) success rates of any team in this season’s Allianz PWR and have scored more tries originating from scrums than any other team in the league this term. Chiefs have also won their last six games against Quins.

Appleby continued: “Quins struggled at the start of the season. They were missing a few key personnel, especially in the back-row and Lucy Packer at nine.

“They have put in a couple of good performances together, and although they did not beat Sarries, they gave them a really good run for their money and went home with two points.

“They’ve got great carriers, they are very physical, got great half-backs, and a very quick outside back three, so it’s going to be a good game.”

Tickets are £11 for adults and £5.50 for children and youth aged 16 and under. Exeter Chiefs’ season ticket holders can attend this match as part of their package.

Exeter Chiefs Women: Merryn Doidge (vc), Claudia MacDonald, Kanako Kobayashi, Gabby Cantorna, Katie Buchanan, Alex Tessier, Brooke Bradley, Hope Rogers, Emily Tuttosi, DaLeaka Menin, Nichola Fryday, Poppy Leitch (capt), Ebony Jefferies, Maisy Allen, Rachel Johnson. Replacements: Daisy French, Abby Middlebrooke, Lizzie Hanlon, Harriet Millar-Mills, Taz Bricknell, Edel McMahon, Mairi McDonald, Eilidh Sinclair.